Bypassing History

At our meeting on Thursday, 14th February, Philippa Massey will describe how Stamford has accommodated different modes of transport through its ancient streets over the centuries.

In the 18th century, it prospered as a stopping place for stage coaches, on the Great North Road from London to Edinburgh.

This coach and horses, pictured in St Mary’s Street in 1955, was reviving the traditional way of travel. (Photograph by Stamford Mercury)

When railways took over, the East Coast main line to Scotland was routed through Peterborough, rather than Stamford, and business in the town declined.  Trade improved with the advent of motor transport, but by 1929, heavy traffic was causing problems in the narrowest streets and a bypass was proposed.  The new road was to be on a viaduct across Stamford meadows, then pass through the old St Peter’s churchyard (next to the present bus station), bisect St Peter’s Street and cut through the site of All Saints vicarage.  Fortunately, it was never built.

This destructive proposal may remind Deeping residents of their own bypass drama.  In 1989 the Department of Transport favoured a road which would cut Eastgate, Deeping St James in half.

The infamous red route, shown on the plan, involved demolishing four houses, then either closing Eastgate to traffic and building a subway for pedestrians and cyclists, or building a bridge for the bypass to cross Eastgate at a height of 4.5 metres.

A local Action Group was formed to fight the scheme and over a thousand letters of protest were sent to the Department of the Environment.

An alternative bypass route (shown by the blue line) was eventually approved and opened to traffic in 1998.

As an historic trading centre, Deepings’ experiences with transport mirror Stamford’s.  Business in both places benefitted from canal traffic in the 18th century, and Market Deeping was at the junction of turnpike roads from Boston to Stamford and “the great road from London to Lincoln”, bringing trade to the shops and inns.   It missed out on the benefit of a railway station, and increasing numbers of HGVs passing through in the 20th century caused disruption.  Villagers began protesting about the volume of traffic in 1939.  In 1963 the County Council envisaged a bypass “within 15 to 20 years”, but in the event, the Deepings had to wait another 35 years.  Stamford gained its north-south bypass in 1960.

Philippa Massey has an in-depth knowledge of Stamford’s past and will have some interesting stories to tell.  Her talk starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School.  There will also be a display of reports and photographs relating to the fight for Deepings bypass.  Everyone is welcome.  There is a £2 charge for non-members 









Medicine and Folklore in the Middle Ages

At our meeting on Thursday, 10th January, Chris Carr will be giving a talk about medieval medicines.  While some of today’s mainstream treatments developed from herbs grown in monastery gardens, Chris will also describe extraordinary and bizarre medical remedies and beliefs from that era.  

She entertained us last season on the subject of Roman cookery, providing samples of Roman-style cake, but it may be wise not to test any medieval potions she brings along!

It was in the summer of 1349 that “the pestilence”, later known as the Black Death, spread into Lincolnshire.  Although mortality rates among the general population were not recorded, it’s known that 44% of the county’s clergy died between March 1349 and March 1350.  Losses were greatest in areas surrounding Lincoln and Stamford, which may imply high death rates among townspeople and villagers too.

The names of some inhabitants of the Deepings who faced that ordeal, are given in a list of tax-payers compiled in 1332.  In East Deeping, which encompassed today’s Deeping St James and Market Deeping, 106 men and 12 women were wealthy enough to be taxed. At that time, not everyone used an hereditary surname.  Some individuals were identified by their occupation or where they lived.  They included Alan and Andrew who worked as tanners, blacksmiths named John junior and senior, Geoffrey the toll collector, Hugh the cook and three clerics named William, Robert and Roger.   There was Alice at the gildhall, Robert at the bridge, John from Barholm and Richard Frogenhale (Frognall).

Among people with recognisable family surnames were Richard, Roger, Geoffrey and Thomas Jelus.  At least one of those men or their male offspring survived the plague, as members of the Jelus family (later spelt Jellus or Jellows) remained in Deeping for another 400 years. They were respected in the community, being called upon to witness Wills and assess the value of livestock and goods when their neighbours died.

When James Jellows, a prosperous farmer, died at Market Deeping in 1638, his son James junior was studying at Caius College, Cambridge.  Young James obtained a BA degree and was ordained a deacon at Peterborough in 1642. In a survey of the Manor of Deeping in 1649, his widowed mother, Joan, was listed as a tenant, and other Jellows relations, John and Richard were also still farming here.  By the mid 18th century, the surname disappeared from local records, ending a remarkable family link back to medieval Deeping.

Chris Carr’s talk starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School.  Everyone is welcome.  There is a £2 charge for non-members.       



Cromwell & Christmas

Stuart Orme will be the speaker at our meeting on Thursday, 13th December.  Well-known for his work at heritage sites and events around Peterborough, he is now curator of the Cromwell Museum at Huntington.  It is housed in the old grammar school where Oliver Cromwell was educated, and displays a large collection of objects relating to his life.  Stuart is therefore well equipped for the subject of his talk – “The Private Life of Oliver Cromwell” – and is sure to give us an enjoyable evening.

 The event starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School. Everyone is welcome.  There is a charge of £2 for non-members.


One of the most widely known facts about Cromwell and his fellow Puritans, is their disapproval of Christmas jollity and extravagant festivities.

Pictured, is part of the Christmas tree display in Market Deeping Town Hall this year.

In 1887, a local newspaper described “Christmas in Lincolnshire in Bygone Days”, recalling that in the 1830s, on the river Welland from Stamford to Spalding and  the navigable drains in the fens, market boats teemed with Christmas produce of the county.  Coaches were a sight to be seen on the day before Christmas, laden as high as haystacks and drawn by six horses with the leading ones ridden by postillions.  People in villages and market towns turned out to wonder and admire them.  The writer estimated that about 75,000 birds, not including wildfowl, were supplied by Lincolnshire farmers.

In December 1888, Stamford Mercury reported on preparations being made in the Deepings for the approaching festivities, stating “James Deeping and Deeping Gate are proverbial for their fine fed geese and poultry.  Mr Huffer has fed and killed, as usual, over 1,000 geese, and Mr John W Huffer junior and Mr Lincoln and others, supply large quantities of poultry of all kinds to the Metropolis.”New image Church Street

Local grocers advertised luxury products as Christmas approached. This photograph was taken between 1905 and 1909, looking north along Church Street, Market Deeping from the Market Place, showing Mr Ernest Blount’s drapery & grocery shop on the corner.  Grocers had traded from the site since at least the 1780s, including John Laxton, the Pilkington family, William Toller and in December 1848, William Cattell.  He offered teas, coffees, sugars, dried fruits and spices, including eight varieties of green tea.  He sold sparkling lump sugar, brilliant lump, bright yellow West Indian and finest Jamaica.  He was followed by Joseph Limmex, Samuel Tomblin and then the Girling family, who are remembered for a near disaster in their shop on Christmas Eve 1895.  An assistant was using a burning taper to light a gas lamp in the shop window, which was decorated with wadding to represent snow.  The wadding caught alight and the window display went up in flames.  Fortunately, the fire was put out before causing injuries or damage to the building.






900th Anniversary of Peterborough Cathedral

Peterborough Cathedral is considered to be one of England’s most beautiful medieval buildings, and at our meeting on 8th November, Dr Jonathan Foyle will give an illustrated talk about its unique architecture.

Jonathan is well known as a lively and engaging speaker.  He grew up in Deeping and holds degrees in Architecture, History of Art and Archaeology.   His latest book titled “Peterborough Cathedral – a Glimpse of Heaven” was timed to celebrate its 900th anniversary.

Construction of the present church began in 1118, after earlier monastery buildings were accidentally destroyed by fire.  A previous monastery was also burned down in 1070 by “men from all over the fens” led by a local landowner named Hereward.  In an attempt to overthrow their new Norman rulers, he combined forces with a Danish king.  The Anglo Saxon Chronicle states they arrived in Peterborough by boat and seized the Abbey’s treasures, including gold and silver shrines, fifteen great crosses of gold and silver, and “the arm of St Cuthbert” – a holy relic.

Hereward the Outlaw, as he was called at the time, became a legendary hero after he evaded capture by William the Conqueror at Ely. He later became known as Hereward the Wake, when the Wake family who owned the Manor of Deeping, claimed to be descended from his daughter.

In 1380 when Blanche Wake died, a summary was made of her land holdings and income from Deeping Manor.  As well as the Manor House with fish moats and dovecote, she owned three water mills, arable land, meadow and “a certain marsh called Deeping Fen”. She was entitled to tolls from markets and fairs held in Deeping, and annual rents of pepper, cumin seed and 120 hens.  She could also claim “work and slavery from natural tenants or natives born there”, valued at £35 a year.

Jonathan Foyle’s talk starts at 7.30pm in the Main Hall at Deepings School.  Tickets costing £6 are for sale at Deeping Library, or by phoning Geoff on 01778 343390.  Seats may be available on the night, but reserving tickets is recommended.   

∗ ∗∗∗∗


You are warmly invited to St Guthlac’s Church on Sunday, November 11th between 12 noon and 4pm for another opportunity to see the Market Deeping posters, dossiers and photographs of those who served in the war.  They were all prepared by the Deepings Remember 1914-18 Group as part of an exhibition in the Community Centre in November 2014. Other items connected with the war, and especially the Armistice and eventual peace, will be on display.

∗ THERE WILL BE NEW INFORMATION TOO.  Find out about the 21 men who served, whose names were found in recently discovered Parish Magazines.  Are you related to them?  We have already located one local family.

∗ READ THE MOVING LETTERS WRITTEN BY THE RECTOR, CANON ASHBY when he was serving in the trenches – especially the one written to the children of the Sunday school, featuring “Whiz Bang” the kitten…

We hope you will join in remembering the men and women who served – those who survived and those who never returned to their families and to our community.



Conserving Lincolnshire’s Heritage

The speaker at our meeting on 11th October will be Liz Bates, Chief Executive Officer of Heritage Lincolnshire, based in Heckington, near Sleaford.  Formed over 25 years ago, the organisation manages six historical sites in the county, including a 13th century Knights Templar tower at Temple Bruar and a 1950s nuclear bomb monitoring post near Holbeach.  It also provides archaeological services, fosters traditional skills and monitors buildings at risk.

When no ancient buildings remain as evidence of an area’s history, sometimes the street names give a clue.  Examples in Market Deeping are Godsey Lane, and The Orchard which connects it to Church Street, along the side of the Glebe Field.

Godsey family baptisms were among the earliest entries in Deeping St James parish register in the 1560s.   The surname is uncommon and varied in spelling over the years, from Godsawe to Godsow and Godsay.  William Godsawe was a weaver when he died in 1623, owning horses and cattle.  He bequeathed two looms to Hugh Laxton on condition that Hugh gathered “sweet and good fodder for my wife’s beasts this summer to serve the winter following”.  William left no male descendants but he named a kinsman as Nicholas Godsaw.  A later Nicholas Godsay had two sons born in Deeping St James around 1700.

It is not clear when the family’s name first became associated with the route to our supermarket!  It has also been unofficially known as Tinkers Lane, but a map drawn in about 1810 shows a narrow section called “Godsey’s Lane” at the southern end, with the remaining, wider part called “Godsey’s Road”.  There were no buildings along its length at that date.  In 1911 there was a single cottage with stables.  By 1939 a terrace of nine houses was erected, with Godsey Crescent being constructed in the early 1950s.

Houses in The Orchard are even more modern, yet the origin of that name goes back to the 16th century, when John Roote owned a coppice and orchard bordering the Rectory grounds. When he died in 1604 the property was inherited by his widow, Margery and after her death, by their eldest son Theophilus Roote.

From the mid 1700s, five generations of the Algar family cultivated the orchard, which was described in 1828 as “a very capital garden planted with the choicest standard and other fruit trees”.  It extended back to “Godsey’s Road” and included the house pictured next to the churchyard, with a large grapevine trained on the south wall.  From about 1830, William Algar also ran a pub from the premises, which he named The Vine.

His son, William junior continued the business as nurseryman, seedsman and publican, but was declared bankrupt in 1862, owing money to a brewer, Joseph Phillips.  The Vine public house then transferred to the building where it still trades today, and was run by John Bluff, a coal merchant.  The Algars continued as nurserymen with five acres of gardens and orchards containing “gooseberries, currants and raspberries, interspersed with fine young orchard trees of apples, pears, plums, walnuts etc.”  The land was said to be the finest in the parish of Market Deeping.

From the 1890s the French family ran the nursery and were still occupying the house in 1939.  It was eventually demolished to make way for the new road and the orchard land was used for houses.

Before Liz Bates starts her very interesting talk, we will have a brief  Annual General Meeting, at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School.  Everyone is welcome.  There is a £2 charge for non-members.


“War Memorials – their Design and Locations”

On Thursday, 13th September the Reverend David Bond will be giving a talk about war memorials as part of our cultural heritage, and how they reflect artistic, social and military history.   The oldest recorded memorial dates back to the 7th century, but the most prolific period for commemorating deaths in conflict was immediately after the First World War.

Almost every small town and village raised funds to pay tribute to those who had given their lives.  Local organising committees decided what form the memorial would take and where it should be sited, usually after consulting members of the community.  The priority was to create an accurate and lasting record of the names of the fallen.  In Deeping St James, Market Deeping and West Deeping,  wall plaques were erected inside the respective churches. Deeping St Nicholas has an inscribed memorial stone in its churchyard and the Deeping Gate Roll of Honour is in Maxey churchyard.

In urban centres, more elaborate structures were erected to provide a focus for ceremonies of remembrance.  The Cenotaph in Whitehall was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who was responsible for 43 other First World War memorials across the country, including one at Spalding.  He is said to have visited the town and personally selected its site in the gardens of Ascoughfee Hall.  Based on the style of a Tuscan pavilion, it is viewed at the end of a rectangular lake and is a Grade I listed building.

Elsewhere memorials take the form of parks and gardens, as well as traditional stone structures of columns and crosses.  Peterborough District Memorial Hospital was opened in 1929 in tribute to casualties of the First World War, but it has now been largely demolished.  Only its facade survives as part of West Town School in Midland Road.

Memorials dedicated solely to the Second World War are rare, as it was usual to add a second Roll of Honour to existing memorials.  This one pictured at Barnards Green, Malvern takes the form of a bus shelter with a clock tower on top.  The side windows are decorated with poppies and it contains a brass plaque “… To the memory of the men who made the supreme sacrifice…” (photograph by Philip Butler in 2016)

David Bond is a popular speaker, who will give new insights into how societies honour their war dead.  His talk starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School.  There is a £2 charge for non-members.

At this first meeting of the season, annual membership can be renewed and new members will be welcomed.  Costs remain the same at £6 for concessions (£10 for joint members at the same address) and £7 for non-concessions (£12 joint).   Members pay only £1 per meeting, and are entitled to half price tickets for our special event with Jonathan Foyle on 8th November – £3 per ticket, instead of £6.




Captain Perry and the Swan

When a survey of Market Deeping was made in 1563, it mentioned the “Sign of ye Bull” and another inn called “The Swans” in the Market Place, backing on to the river.  At that time it was owned by the Nicholson family, together with other properties in Deeping, land at Maxey and Northborough and the lease of West Deeping parsonage.  When Jane Nicholson died in 1557, a few days after her husband, she bequeathed “my house or tenement where I now dwell, called The Swann” to one of her sons.

The inn traded over many years, and a description of the building was given in 1734, when it was advertised to let by its current owner, Enoch Thoroton:

“A good new-built house standing in the Market Place and abutting on the backside of the river Welland, having been an old accustomed Inn known by the name of the Swan, containing 14 good rooms, a large yard and stable room for 60 horses and room to lay 60 loads of wood for sale on their own ground.”  Mr Thoroton described himself as a great dealer in wood and other things.

His advertisement continued “There is at present another Inn near the same, known by the name of Captain Perry’s and formerly by the name of the Bell Inn, that is now let for a private house, so whoever hires the said house will have the business that they both were wont to have.”

Captain John Perry, born in 1669, had been commander of a Royal Navy ship called The Cygnet. He was a skilful engineer and after an eventful naval career during which he lost his right arm, was court-martialled and then pardoned, in 1698 he was employed by Peter the Great to build canals in Russia.  When the Tsar failed to pay him, Captain Perry returned to England and enhanced his reputation by repairing a serious breach in the Thames’ bank at Dagenham.  He then carried out drainage work in the fens around Spalding, and in 1730 was appointed engineer to the Deeping Fen Adventurers.  No doubt around that time, the Bell Inn was re-named in his honour.   He was responsible for building sluices on the Welland near Cowbit and also at Pode Hole and Deeping Bank.

 Unfortunately, he died in February 1733 before his schemes were completed, and is buried inside St Mary & St Nicholas parish church, Spalding.  There is a large memorial stone recording his life story with a family crest showing three pears for the surname Perry.

By 1738 Captain Perry’s inn had reverted to its original name of The Bell.  Enoch Thoroton had died and his widow advertised it to let as “a very good built new house with very good yards and stables, stands well in the town and is situate on the river, very convenient for public business”.

It appears that The Swan had ceased trading, unlike its Tudor contemporary The Bull, which still thrives in the Market Place.