Monthly Archives: May 2016

“Memories of Market Deeping” is now republished!


This  fascinating reminiscence of life in our beautiful South Lincolnshire village in the early part of the 20th century has now been republished. It was first published in 1990.

Eric Bowman was born in Market Deeping in 1903 above his father’s Tobacconist and Hairdressing shop in the Market Place and lived there 57 years.

Among his recollections are a visit by General Booth (founder of the Salvation Army), the advent of piped water, the May Fair and the fact that his schoolmaster was paid with gold sovereigns.  Eric worked on a farm from the age of twelve and when still in his teens became “Caller Up” for the Fire Brigade – cycling to each fireman’s house when the horse-drawn fire engine was needed.  After the First World War he established his hairdressing business and came into contact with many of the local characters – he describes their idiosyncrasies, though tactfully leaving some people nameless!  

The booklet (which includes old photographs) is priced at £2.50 and is on sale at Callow’s shop in the Market Place. This is the very building in which Eric lived and where the Callow family continue the hairdressing and tobacconist tradition. 

It is also available from Keith Simpson (Tel. 01778 344553) or by emailing Deepings Heritage for details:

Remembering the Bard … and a Local Widow

When William Shakespeare died on 23rd April 1616, he owned the second largest house in Stratford upon Avon, described in his Will as “All that capital messuage or tenement with the appurtenances called the New Place where I now dwell”.  Memorably, his sole bequest to his wife was “my second best best bed”.


About the same date in Market Deeping, widow Agnes Johnson died.  Her home was a single storey cottage with three rooms.  There was a Hall where she lived and cooked, a Parlour where she slept and a Buttery for storing household utensils.  Soon after her death, on 25th April 1616 four local men named William Buddle, Richard More, Thomas Oldgate and Thomas Storey visited the house to list and value her possessions.

IN THE HALL she had a simple wooden table, with a bench to sit on, and one chair.  There were six pieces of pewter and three of brass – one, no doubt, being a candlestick.  She also had a frying pan with “other implements” which would have included fire irons to support her cooking pots.  The total value was 16 shillings.

IN THE PARLOUR there was one bedstead with three sheets, two pillowcases and two tablecloths “and other small linen”.  She also had three coffers (chests for storing clothes etc) and two spinning wheels – one for flax and one for wool.  There were also valued at 16 shillings.

IN THE BUTTERY was a wooden tub, a strike (vessel for measuring grain) and a leaven tub where bread dough was left to rise.  These were valued at 5 shillings.

Her clothing and money in her purse came to 5 shillings.

Although Agnes Johnson’s possessions seem sparse, she was not an impoverished widow.  A poorer woman would have had utensils made of patten, a cheaper alloy than brass, and wooden vessels rather than pewter.  However, Agnes had no glass in her windows or cloth hangings on her walls to keep out draughts.

Outside in her yard was an open-sided shed called a hovel, three hens and a cock, valued at 3s 4d.  She also owned two cows and a calf worth £3, so was able to produce her own milk and eggs.

Scan 1

Market Deeping had four open fields, where cottagers were allocated strips of land to grow crops.  At the time of her death, Agnes or a member of her family, had planted one acre of wheat & rye, an acre of barley, an acre of peas, an acre of lentils and half an acre of wheat, valued at £5.

As we celebrate the memory of Shakespeare 400 years after his death, consider Agnes Johnson whose simple life has been forgotten, buried in the churchyard of St. Guthlac’s, Market Deeping  all this time.


 Our final talk of the season is on Thursday 12th May, when Dr Simon Pawley, a local historian from Sleaford,  will give an insight into the significance of that traditional market town, long the capital of Kesteven.  Sleaford can trace its story back to the Iron Age and during the Anglo-Saxon period became an administrative and marketing centre for this part of Lincolnshire. 

Just one of our local links:  Kirk and Parry, a firm of builders and architects with a national reputation, were based in Sleaford. The firm drew up plans  for the Green School cottage in 1859 and for Deeping St Nicholas Church 1845-6. Charles Kirk (1825-1902) the younger was involved when the Police Station was built in the Market Place in 1880. 

“The tallest telephone pole I have ever seen!”

By 1905 there was a public telephone in Market Deeping and Eric Bowman, in his book “Memories of Market Deeping”, wrote that outside the Post Office was the tallest telephone pole he had ever seen.

This photograph of Towngate Corner gives us some idea of what he meant and the crowd the poles attracted are testimony to their novelty.  (None of the houses now remain – they were removed when the junction later needed widening).

It seems thatremove telegraph pole towngt E 280316 - Copy Mr Vergette, the local farmer and landowner, lived in Towngate West and declared it to be “Pole End”.

The Parish Council would not allow the poles along Church Street or in the Market Place to spoil the village, but it had no respect for Towngate, according to Mr Vergette.


The council saw the splendid buildings along Church Street and in the Market Place as  worthy of protection – no conservation areas then. Nothing changes in the efforts to preserve our historic heritage!

Towngate West, Market Deeping c. 1900

Poles End or Towngate West?

Eric Bowman recalls how there were 40 or so main telephone wires attached to the double poles outside the Post Office and that after they were erected they had to be removed to the field south of the bridge. They then went along as far as Millfield Road before turning north to Towngate ….and of course they passed Mr Vergette’s home in Poles End!


Interestingly some did not survive for long, as in March 1916 a blizzard swept through the area bringing down some of the poles between Peterborough and Bourne. Eric Bowman recalls  Canadian soldiers (stationed locally) replacing them and the newspapers reported that Royal Engineers were deployed, possibly a joint effort?

It is interesting to look at our old photographs to spot the telephone poles…..


“Memories of Market Deeping”

This is currently being reprinted and we hope that it will be shortly on sale.

We will keep you informed of the details.


Deepings Heritage has sponsored a display board inside the library.

It will enable you to read the posters produced for “The Deepings Remember 1914-1918 Exhibition”, honouring those men and women from the Deepings who served in the First World War. The posters will be put in on a rotational basis and in July we will mark the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme 1916, when a number of local men fell in the first few days of July.

The display board will also have a selection of local history material.