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Discovering Spalding
A walking tour with an expert guide

On Saturday 22 April a group of fifteen SLHA members were led by Neil Wright on a walking tour which included many important buildings and features close to Spalding’s town centre.

Beginning in the Market Place we traced the few surviving fragments of the medieval Priory and paused to look at the enigmatic Abbey Buildings, a brick range with stone dressings. Passing the former Sessions House built by Charles Kirk in 1842, we spilled on to the platform of the railway station, once the hub of frequent services passing in six directions from the town, now barely used.

A steady walk along the line of the former Westlode Drain – with several stops along the way - took us to Chain Bridge Forge where we were given an informative talk about the smithy and its history by Geoff Taylor.

Turning south and following the banks of the Welland, we passed fine houses and impressive warehouses on our way to the town bridge, the parish church of St Mary & St Nicholas and our final destination of Ayscoughfee Hall.

Two hours had sped by in which we had learned a great deal about this fenland town and had seen to a wide range of attractive historic buildings.

Viewing the Abbey Buildings

On the station platform

April 2017

Forty SLHA members and friends met at St Hugh’s Hall in Lincoln on 19 April to hear Angus Townley give a detailed account of the drainage of the Isle of Axholme.

The Romans dug two significant channels across the Isle, principally for transport rather than drainage. Sluices and other minor drainage improvements were made in the medieval and Tudor periods but it was only in the 17th century that a comprehensive scheme under Cornelius Vermuyden changed the whole nature of the area.

The principal rivers (Don, Idle, Torne) were channelled and re-routed and subsidiary drains laid to carry water ultimately into the Trent (to the east) or Ouse (north). Further improvements were made by Smeaton and others in the 1760s and some 60 years later by Rennie.

Steam powered pumping engines were first introduced in the 1820s, to be replaced by diesel and later electric pumps. Currently there are 2 major pumping stations, 14 smaller stations and 90 km of flood embankment protecting the Isle.

Owston Ferry Pumping Station

April 2017

Pearl Wheatley
Celebrating a Nonagenarian

SLHA members joined Pearl Wheatley in celebrating her 90th birthday at the beginning of March. Pearl has made a huge contribution to the Society over the years and continues to play a significant role with remarkable energy.

An informal coffee morning in her honour was held at Jews’ Court on 7 March and at the ‘Sunday Special’ talks on 12 March SLHA President Rod Ambler presented Pearl with a gift from the Society. This was a flight in a light aircraft from Wickenby Airfield around the county that Pearl knows and has served so well.


Pearl receives her gift from Rod Ambler

March 2017

Stamp End Railway Bridge, Lincoln
Its hidden significance

Barry Barton gave a talk on the Stamp End railway bridge to a large group of SLHA members and friends at Jews’ Court on 12 March.

This bridge was built in 1846 over the Witham, just to the east of Stamp End Lock, to carry the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway’s line from Lincoln to Barnetby. The bridge was the first in England to be constructed using wrought iron boxed girders.

The engineer behind the construction was John Fowler (who more famously designed the Forth rail bridge in Scotland). Stamp End bridge was in effect a prototype for the bridges Fowler built over the Trent at Torksey and Gainsborough the following year.

Stamp End bridge, listed Grade II, is in urgent need of repair and in February Lincoln City Council gave Listed Building Consent for replacement of the bridge.

SLHA has campaigned for the original girders to be used to create a footbridge across the R Witham since the adjacent crossing (Titanic Bridge) has been closed to pedestrians on safety grounds. Resolution is awaited.

Stamp End Railway Bridge, Lincoln

March 2017

Sixhills Nunnery
Recording an historic building

Chris Page, one of the Society’s Building Recording Group working with Hainton community members to investigate and record this ironstone building, described the project at an SLHA Sunday Special meeting on 12 March.

The principal external walls of the building comprise masonry and bricks of various periods, some of which have apparently been re-used from earlier buildings. Internal elements – fireplaces, roof timbers, stair balusters, paint layers – also present challenges of interpretation.

Documentary research has traced ownership and occupation over the past 300 years and a probate inventory indicates room usage. Thus the understanding of this building's history and its function is becoming more complete.

Sixhills Nunnery - a building of great interest

March 2017

The ‘Arch and Arch’
SLHA’s earliest forerunner

Pearl Wheatley, SLHA Vice-President, spoke to a packed audience at a ‘Sunday Special’ in Lincoln on 12 March about the early history of the Society.

In the 1840s many Lincolnshire churches faced the need for restoration and the county’s clergymen formed a society to study architecture and monitor local developments. Within a short time it broadened its remit and became the Lincolnshire Architectural and Archaeological Society.

From the onset the society organised talks and visits for its members. Conducted tours of churches – often several in one day - were the common and popular features of the programmes throughout the nineteenth century.

In the twentieth century the Arch & Arch was an active campaigner on several important planning issues in the city. In 1932 they acquired Jews’ Court from the City Council, thus saving the building from demolition. In 1965 the Arch & Arch amalgamated with the Lindsey Local History Society, and in due course this became SLHA (1974).

The insignia of the LAAS, founded 1844

March 2017

80 people met in the fine early sixteenth-century hall of King’s School in Grantham on Saturday 11 March for a vibrant conference on the vernacular buildings of the town.

Walking tours were led by members of Grantham Civic Trust, with special inputs from Professors David Stocker and Philip Dixon, visiting the Blue Pig (late C16, half-timbered), Vine Street, the Artichoke (C15), Market Place, Conduit, Westgate, George Inn and the Angel Inn.

Afternoon talks were as follows:

The Little-Known Historic Buildings of Grantham
David Stocker
Grantham has a rare example of a C13 ‘stack’ building in Butcher Row at the corner of the Market Place. This survives only as a fine vaulted undercroft below what was a mercer’s shop exposed by late C19 building work.

The Blue Pig is an example of a linear building with a shop end-on to the street, dating from the C16. By contrast, a ‘side-on’ building, with its entrance from a passage at the side of the building, is seen at the Malt Shovel and The Artichoke.

There are records of numerous other significant buildings in the town which have been demolished but there is also much that remains to be discovered – often with timber-framing – behind brick or stucco frontages.

Using Probate Inventories to Establish House Types
John Manterfield
Probate inventories, which only relate to households above a certain size, list the possessions of the deceased room by room. Dr Manterfield’s detailed analysis of 500 inventories of Grantham households reveals changes in both room terminology and function between the C16 and C17 periods.

The number or rooms per household also increased; additional chambers were recorded and cellars appeared for the first time. It will be instructive to relate these documentary sources to the surveys of surviving buildings of the same periods.

What does Building Recording Involve?
Ken Hollamby
This experienced retired professional fieldworker shared his wide experience of recording a variety of buildings, emphasising the simple basics which enable him to generate a floor plan and elevation drawing.

A successful project may bring in more advanced skills – photography, dendrochronology, archive research, archaeology, report writing – but building recording creates opportunities for contributions for anyone with an interest in the construction and history of old buildings.

Photographs: Top - The original C16 Grammar School Hall, venue of the conference
Middle - The Antelope, Swinegate. Prof. David Stocker outlines its significance.
Bottom - The Angel, Watergate. Prof. Philip Dixon with conference members prepare to enter the late C15 inn.


March 2017

Roman Crafts
A half term family event

Just over 40 visitors crowded into the small activity space at Market Rasen Library to attend a successful half term event for families organised by Kathy Holland on behalf of the Society.

Visitors had the opportunity to participate in a variety of craft activities inspired by Roman crafts including creating Roman style jewellery and using clay to make an oil lamp. A replica pair of Roman sandals provided a chance to investigate how the Romans designed their footwear. A selection of replica oil lamps offered an insight into how ceramic oil lamps work, and provided a topic for a lively discussion on how people in the past lit their homes before the advent of electricity.

Experimenting with creating mosaic designs using a selection of colourful plastic tesserae proved once again to be a very popular activity and afforded the opportunity to introduce the interesting subject of Roman mosaics in Lincolnshire.

This event used resources provided by the ‘Past and Present’ Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

Roman sandals and oil lamps - examined in Market Rasen, 2017 AD

February 2017

Railway Buildings celebrated
The M&GNR in Lincolnshire

Nigel Digby entertained an audience of over 60 at St Hugh’s Hall in Lincoln on 15 February to an illustrated talk on the buildings on the Lincolnshire stretch of the Midlands and Great Northern Joint Railway.

This cross-country line ran from Norwich (with an important ‘main’ branch from King’s Lynn to Peterborough) via Sutton Bridge, Spalding, Bourne and Little Bytham to Saxby in Leicestershire, opening in 1893 and closing in 1959.

Nigel, a leading student of this line, showed many of his outstanding and unique collection of early photographs of the railway structures – stations, signal boxes, goods sheds, crossing-keeper’s cottages, bridges, name boards – and commented in detail on their construction and design features. Regrettably, virtually all this railway history has been swept aside and very little remains to be seen today.

Spalding Station today

February 2017

Ray Carroll (1930-2017)
Sad loss to the Society

It is with great sadness we report the death on 29 January of Ray Carroll. He had been a member of SLHA for more than 30 years and Reviews Editor since 1997.

Ray had a long career in the public library service, beginning in his native Kent and working in Nottingham, Dorset and Gloucestershire before a spell in Vienna with the British Council. He came to Lincolnshire as the County Librarian in 1980.

Ray’s wide experience of books and publishing equipped him ideally for the role of Reviews Editor for SLHA. As a librarian he was usually aware of most books being published about Lincolnshire, whether a village history, a biography or an academic treatise, and he had regular contacts with many publishers.

For twenty years he managed the task of enlisting reviewers and editing their contributions with great efficiency and skill. He also set up the regular section listing 'books published and received' in the SLHA journal, which went some way towards alleviating the lack of a comprehensive county bibliography.

Ray Carroll developed a wide range of interests in his adopted county and made significant contributions in several fields. He was an active member of the Tennyson Society and for several years contributed to the work of the History of Lincolnshire Committee.

He served as a council member of the Lincoln Record Society and edited the society’s Volume 84, The Printed Maps of Lincolnshire 1576-1900: A Carto-Bibliography, published in 1996 – a superb achievement. He also found time to follow his lifelong interests in music and cricket.

Ray was a quiet man with an engaging sense of humour who was held in high regard by all who worked with him and came to know him. He will be much missed.

Ray Carroll (1930-2017)

February 2017Ray Carroll

Buildings of Southwell
The early fabric of an historic town

Dr Chris King of the Department of Archaeology, University of Nottingham, spoke to a well-attended meeting of SLHA members in Lincoln on 25 January about the recent English Heritage funded project in Southwell.  Survey work involving the local community group (Southwell Community Archaeology) has examined and recorded a wide range of the town’s buildings.

Southwell has a considerable collection of fine, large houses once associated with the Minster. Parts of some medieval structures survive within one or two of these buildings; some Tudor and Jacobean brickwork can also be seen; but much was rebuilt in the eighteenth century and occupied by new gentry families.

The town also has a good range of early vernacular domestic buildings, several with plain exteriors hiding finely crafted interior details and many with unexpectedly early timber framing, especially in the ‘suburb’ of West Thorpe.

New information about the timber-framed Saracen’s Head has emerged (an open hall). Dr King’s work has also recently taken him outside Southwell to Hallaughton Hall Farm, where the well-known tower is now considered to be a solar tower, once linked to a medieval house (as at Longthorpe, Cambridgeshire).

Westhorpe Cottage, Southwell

January 2017Southwell, Hallaughton, Chris King

Portable Antiquities, Palimpsests, and Persistent Places
The work of the Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer

Adam Daubney is the Lincolnshire Finds Liaison Officer for the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme. He talked about his recent work to Society members at a 'Sunday Special' at Jews' Court on 22 January.

He has been recording archaeological objects in Lincolnshire for over fifteen years. The analysis of finds, mainly made by amateur metal-detectorists, has resulted in a massive increase in our knowledge, particularly about multi-period sites ("persistent places”).

Adam likened these sites to palimpsests, documents which have been over-written but where the original writing can still be discerned and he used Bardney Abbey as an example.

Here, finds dating from the Iron Age to the 6th century, which have not been replicated elsewhere on the "island” estate, tend to indicate that the abbey could be the site of the Saxon cemetery, known to have existed in the area.

January 2017

Captain William Cust ...
"... unfortunately killed by a cannon ball”.

John Manterfield gave a talk with this intriguing title to SLHA members at a 'Sunday Special' in Lincoln on 22 January.

William Cust (1720-1748), a member of the Cust family of Grantham, was a naval officer of great promise who was killed aged 28 in the attack on Port Louis in the West Indies, having previously served with great distinction and noted bravery in battles against the French and Spanish fleets on both sides of the Atlantic.

He had the potential to become an admiral had his career not been cut short. He is commemorated on a fine memorial in St Wulfram’s Church, Grantham, which was made by Sir Henry Cheere, the greatest monumental sculptor of his time.

Whilst not wishing to downplay the bravery and commitment of this young man, the speaker observed that the inscription considerably inflates his deeds.

January 2017William Cust, John Manterfield

Boston’s Grand Sluice
A huge improvement for the town in 1766

Neil Wright was one of three speakers at a 'Sunday Special' at Jews' Court on Sunday 22 January.

He sketched the background to the improvement of the R Witham and the building of the Grand Sluice which was officially opened on 3 October 1766. This work allowed the adjacent fens to be drained thus considerably increasing their agricultural yield, permitted reliable transport between Boston and Lincoln and the establishment of a port on the river.

This resulted in a great increase in prosperity for the town of Boston which is exemplified today by the many fine Georgian buildings of the late eighteenth century.

The Society was involved with marking the 250th anniversary of the sluice last year.

January 2017Boston Grand Sluice

Lincolnshire Anniversaries : 2017
Notable People and Events from the Past


* Remigius appointed to Bishopric of Dorchester by William the Conqueror (‘reassigned’ bishopric of Lincoln in 1072)

* Second Battle of Lincoln, or Battle of Lincoln Fair, was fought around Lincoln Castle between the forces of the future Louis VIII of France and Henry III (20 May)
* The Charter of the Forest, which re-established rights of access to the royal forests for free men, first issued (6 Nov).  One copy is on display alongside Magna Carta at Lincoln Castle.

*Lincoln Endowed Grammar School founded

*King James I came to Lincoln for a visit of several days. He attended Cathedral services but also watched a cock-fight at a pub near the Stonebow and enjoyed a horse race (late March).

* First edition of the Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury (3 Jan)
* Sir John Thorold, MP for Grantham and Lincolnshire 1697-1715 died (14 January)
* Robert Vyner of Gautby, MP for Thirsk 1783-1796, born (27 June)
* John Harrison, clockmaker of Barrow on Humber, made a clock with entirely wooden mechanism for Nostell Priory, Wakefield, owned by the Winn family
* William Stukeley, antiquarian of Holbeach, elected Fellow of the Royal Society
* Maurice Johnson of Spalding assisted in the formation of the Society of Antiquaries

* Enclosure Awards granted for Grimoldby (9 December), Keddington (5 March), Tetford (2 April), Fenton & Laughterton , Aslackby & Dowsby (3 November) and Corby.
* Severe flooding in fens, breach in the Deeping Bank and north bank of River Glen (9 Feb)

* Earthquake recorded at Coningsby (6 Feb)
* Annie Dixon, miniaturist portrait painter to royalty and nobility, born Horncastle (13 March)
* William Marrat’s map of Lincoln, 10 inches to 1 mile, published with dedication to Coningsby Waldo Sibthorp
* Edward Trollope, antiquary, Anglican Bishop of Nottingham, born Uffington (15 April)
* Elizabeth Whiting, convicted of poisoning her child, first person to be hanged on Cobb Hall, Lincoln (15 March).
* Page Cartledge, introduced gas, made on the premises, for lighting his grocer’s shop in Lincoln (5 May)
* The original building of the Lawn Lunatic Asylum opened in Lincoln (25 August)
* William Rainforth, agricultural implement maker, Britannia Works, Lincoln, born Gainsborough
* Samuel Jessup, farmer of Heckington, died aged 64 (17 May). An extreme hypochondriac, he is reputed to have taken over 50,000 pills in one year and owed a local apothecary about £800 when he died.
* The Crowland to Eye Turnpike Trust formed, one of the last in Lincolnshire; the turnpike was only 5 miles long and lay mostly in Northamptonshire.
* A House of Industry (workhouse) was set up within the Newark Union at Claypole.
* The London Warehouse, a fine, substantial building, was erected on Packhouse Quay, Boston; it was demolished in 1950.
* Trustees savings banks opened in Boston, Horncastle and Louth.
* Harvest wet and cold, worst ever known.

* Railway lines were opened between Spalding and March (GNR March line, 1 April); Lincoln and Honington (GNR Honington line, 15 April); and Gainsborough and Doncaster (part of GNR Loop Line, 15 July)

* The airfield at Bracebridge Heath was extended to 125 acres for service use by larger planes and the Royal Flying Corps.
* Marshalls of Gainsborough received orders to build 150 Bristol F.2B aircraft; they were built at the Carr House Works, Lea Road.
* William Ashbee Tritton (1875-1946) received a knighthood for his part in the development of the tank at Fosters of Lincoln (21 Feb).
* Rowland Winn, The Second Baron St Oswald, became the largest single producer of iron ore in the UK at his Scunthorpe area mines.
* The Hon Francis McLaren, Liberal MP for Spalding (1910-1917), joined the RNVR and was killed in a flying accident in Scotland (20 August)
* The Grimsby Chums took part in the battle of Passchendaele (October)
* Holbeach Crown Colony was set up with help of the Ministry of Agriculture to provide farm smallholdings for discharged soldiers.
* Home Defence Flight Station Brattleby Cliff was renamed Scampton RFC Station, with operational training squadrons 11, 60 & 81 flying Sopwith Camels, Pups and Dolphins.
* The Cranwell Branch railway line from Sleaford, built by the Admiralty, under GNR supervision, opened with 5.25 miles of single track.

* The ironstone mines at Nettleton reached their peak level of production (but closed two years later).
* Stamford was designated the country’s first conservation area under the Civic Amenities Act 1967.
* Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd performed at Spalding’s Tulip Bulb Auction Hall before a crowd of 4000. Tickets were £1. (29 May)

January 2017