Historic Footpaths

We have a large network of public footpaths in the Deepings – some providing useful short cuts, and others routed across farmland in peaceful isolation, which people especially value at present.   Some have been in use for over two hundred years.

When the open field system of farming ended here in the early 19th century, landowners fenced off their properties, and Commissioners were appointed by Act of Parliament to establish legal rights of way for local people to cross private land.  A meeting was held in January 1809 at the New Inn (now The Stage) to discuss proposals for eighteen footpaths linking Market Deeping, Deeping St James and Frognall.

Let’s take a virtual stroll along one of these paths, which many people may use in small sections, without realising its full length or history.  It starts at the top of the gravel lane by Market Deeping cemetery, then follows the cemetery hedge and continues straight ahead alongside a row of horse chestnut trees. In 1809 the grassland on the right was a glebe field, allocated to the rector, Joseph Monkhouse, as part of his benefits. His successor, the reverend William Hildyard planted it with “valuable timber”, but only a small number of trees remain. In the 1990s it was bought by the Town Council for community use, and now includes a cycle track.

This photograph shows the view looking backwards towards St Guthlac’s church, while our route continues over the pedestrian crossing in Godsey Lane.  Take a few steps to the left, before entering Tesco’s car park along its boundary with William Hildyard’s School grounds.  Both the school and the store are built on part of a nineteen acre field which was also allocated to the rector as glebe land.  Originally, the footpath bisected this field in a straight line.

Reaching the front of Tesco’s, turn right and follow a path round the side of the building next to the school playground.  It leads into a recent housing development called Jubilee Drive.  Cross the paved roadway and re-join a tarmac path about one metre in front of the house windows.

Ahead is a tall hedge with a gap in it, which marks the parish boundary line between Market Deeping and Deeping St James. The footpath continues through the gap into part of a field which in 1809 was owned by farmer Francis Mawby.  It is currently uncultivated and well-trodden earth shows the way forward.

Walk straight ahead, crossing over a small dyke, then  continue alongside a deeper drainage channel.  Until recently, crops were still grown in the field on the right-hand side, which was owned by Tyghe’s Charity, but it is now a construction site for Linden Homes.


The photograph shows a view looking back towards Market Deeping. The historic sight-line to the church is now blocked by new houses in Jubilee Grove, but the top of the tower can be glimpsed in the distance.

Our footpath leaves the field over a wooden bridge, and comes to an end in Linchfield Road.

Although their surroundings continue to change, the paths survive, well-used by people taking exercise, and it normal times by school children and shoppers.


We hope to resume our monthly meetings next season, whenever it is safe to do so, and wish everyone good health in the meantime.










House Histories

We were due to hear a talk in April by Debbie Frearson and Carole Bancroft Turner, who investigate architectural histories, but as that meeting had to be cancelled, we are hoping  to re-book them next season.

While confined to home,  we can instead go back in time to Chester’s restaurant at No. 102 Church Street, Market Deeping, and track its transformation from a 17th century farmhouse.  Originally the whole building was one dwelling, with a large stone barn and farmyard on the north side where the almshouses now stand, and more than an acre of grassland behind.

In the 18th century it was the home of John Mawby, a wealthy land and property owner who died in 1797. His son Francis inherited the farmstead, but due to financial difficulties, had to sell it in 1817.   It was then split up, with the barn and land put to separate use and the house divided into two.

The section with the bay window, which is now Chester’s, was let to Christopher Williamson, a chemist and druggist in 1818.  He advertised genuine patent medicines, paints, oils, colours and sheep ointment of the best quality.  He later sold groceries as well, and traded there for almost 40 years.  He was succeeded by his grandson, grocer William Torey for a few years in the 1850s, then grocer Edward Wherry.  By 1860 the premises were empty.  Trade in Deeping had declined, due to the railways taking over from horse-drawn transport, and fewer travellers passing through the town.

In 1863 the property was advertised to let, as “a good house, shop and business premises”.  The next known tenant was  John Cole, a boot and shoe-maker and leather factor.  He was followed by James Needham, a saddler and then Elijah Dixon, a plumber, glazier and painter.  In 1889 a fire broke out in Mr Dixon’s workshop when soot in a stove set light to straw in the store room below. Stamford Mercury reported that “many neighbours were quickly on the spot, forming a line with buckets of water.  A messenger rushed off for the Deeping St James fire engine and in less than an hour it was there”!

When Mr Dixon moved out, a butcher took over, and by 1898 it was Frederick Ostler’s fishmonger’s shop, where fish was fried two days a week.  In the early 20th century, Joseph Plowright, a plumber & decorator traded from the premises. He was followed by William Measures who ran a fruit and vegetable shop, which was continued into the 1960s by his son James.

This photograph taken in the 1950s, shows a parade led by Scottish pipers, marching in front of the Measures family’s shop. A later greengrocery was kept there by Roy and Rosalie Opperman.

In 1987, the building began its present lifestyle as a tearoom, when George and Elaine Szarawski opened their Farmhouse Tea Shop.  A French chef took over in 1996 and the premises became a patisserie called La Maison Gourmand.

For the past 14 years, many people have enjoyed the hospitality of Chester’s restaurant, and look forward to the time it can re-open.


South Lincolnshire on Old Film

On Thursday, 12th March, Lincolnshire Film Archives will show a compilation of old film taken around this area, including some in the Deepings.  It should bring back memories and give insights into how life has changed.  The presentation starts at 7.30 pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School.  Everyone is welcome.   There is a £3 charge for non-members.

This photograph shows flooding in High Street, Market Deeping in March 1947.  After many weeks of snow and ice, there was a sudden thaw and the river overflowed.  Thomas Jibb, who lived in Horsegate, is wading in front of Sharpe & Wade, solicitors’ office, which is now Deeping Community Library.


In the early 1900s, Deeping Horse Show was held in Mr Wade’s park at the back of that building, and included a competition for the best Tradesman’s Turnout.  Tradespeople took a pride in the appearance of their horses and carts, and a regular prizewinner was saddler & harness-maker, Daniel Wells, who had premises nearby, in Bridge Street, Deeping St James.

The photograph of his turnout was taken at the Horse Show, probably around 1906.  From 1908 he had the words “Licensed Horse Slaughterer” painted on the side of his horse-drawn cart.



The second picture, of Mr Wells at his business premises, shows him sharpening his knife, ready to cut up a carcass.

In 1910, after the death of his first wife, he married Alice Maud Bland, whose sister Lucy traded as L E Bland, bakers & grocers in the Market Place.  She had a second shop in Bridge Street, Deeping St James, run by her sister Angelina.  Lucy also competed at the Deeping Horse Show, beating Daniel to first prize in the Tradesman’s event on at least one occasion.


The photograph of her horse and cart outside the Market Deeping shop was taken about 1910. She provided luncheons and a tearoom in the premises, which were later taken over by Lambert & Kisby, bakers and grocers, and are now the Carpets & Flooring shop.

The man standing by the horse is Lucy Bland’s brother, George, while on the pavement is Charles Thacker, a farmer who lived in Horsegate.  He was married to Parthenia, another of her sisters.

In a small community like the Deepings, families in trade often intermarried, and in 1912 Lucy married Charles Barsby, who was employed as a baker at her Deeping St James shop. 







A Bird’s Eye View of Peterborough

At our meeting on Thursday, 13th February, we welcome back Peter Waszak who is a member of Peterborough Civic Society.  His presentation will highlight changes to the city centre, both before and during the 1970s re-development, using photographs taken from the top of tall buildings.  The event starts at 7.30 pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School, and everyone is welcome.  There is a charge of £3 for non-members.

This aerial photograph of Market Deeping, dating from about 1930, shows the village before modern housing expansion.  In the foreground is Wherry’s Mill on Stamford Road – only the mill house now remains.   The Market Place is on the right-hand side, with Church Street stretching across the centre. Running parallel,  Godsey Lane can be seen beyond, with fields on both sides, and further in the distance, Linchfield Road crosses open countryside.

(Click on the photograph to increase its size)


A view from above the Peterborough road around 1950, shows Godsey Lane across the top right-hand corner, and north of Towngate Outgang the accommodation buildings of RAF Langtoft can be seen.  These were demolished following closure of the radar station in the mid 1960s.  Only the officers’ houses remain in Wellington Way, and the former NAAFI hut which is now used by Scouts.

Houses in “The Grove” leading off Church Street have not yet been built, and there is still a large orchard of fruit trees where “The Orchard” housing development took place in the late 1960s.

This photograph looking towards St Guthlac’s church, has Hall Farm and it’s outbuildings on the far left.  The farmhouse had been built in 1907 to replace old Wake Hall Farm, and was itself demolished in 1989 to make way for “Hall Farm” housing estate.

The allotments  shown behind houses on the west side of Church Street were built upon in the 1960s when “The Avenue” was constructed.  This involved demolishing a bungalow and another small building next to No. 46 Church Street.

The final view is taken from Market Deeping’s only tall building, the church tower, looking south along Church Street towards the bridge.  It dates from an era before motorised traffic, when a man and his dog, and two boys, could loiter in the middle of the road. 




Events in January 2020 … and 1820

For our first event of the New Year, we welcome back Derek Harris who gave an entertaining talk in March 2018 about the History of Canals.  On Thursday, 9th January, he will discuss “Folk of the Cut” – people involved in our canal system, including boating families and their employers, the early engineers and present day volunteers who help to restore the network. Derek owns a canal boat and will include some boating songs along the way.  His presentation starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School.  Everyone is welcome. Entrance £3 for non-members.     

In January 200 years ago, people looking for entertainment in the Deepings, could find an advertisement in Stamford Mercury for dancing lessons.  Mr Stuart who had been with the Opera House, London for five years, offered instruction in the waltz, quadrille, country dancing and reeling.  He ran an Academy of Dance in Priestgate, Peterborough, but regularly visited Market Deeping with his assistant, Mr Sheppard who gave lessons on the flute and violin.

This engraving of four couples dancing the quadrille dates from about 1825. (In the Wellcome Collection)  Eight dancers, in a square formation, followed a memorised sequence of steps.

Mr Stuart gave tuition in Deeping several times each year, but in 1827 it was announced that his real name was Richard Samuel Humphrays.   “The gentleman, having some years ago an inclination for the stage and entering on a theatrical life, assumed the name of Stuart.”  He reverted to the name Humphrays  at the age of 50,  when he married Mary Ann Cherrington of Crowland.

January 1820 also saw Robert Thompson taking over as landlord of the Chestnut Horse pub in Deeping St James – “the old-established public house which he has fitted up with beds for the accommodation of travellers.  He has commenced brewing his own ale and has laid in a stock of genuine spirituous liquors.”

The Chestnut Horse, next-door to the bakery in Church Street, continued trading until 1908 when it was declared redundant by the licensing authorities. It was put up for auction with the bakery premises, as a single Lot.  (This photograph of the pub is from Dorothea Price’s collection, published in 1998.)

A private house built in 1915, called Chestnut House, now stands on the site.

200 years ago this month, teaching resumed at the Endowed School in Church Street, Market Deeping, in newly-built premises.  There had been a charity school on the site since the 1540s, but the new building incorporated rooms for boarders, schoolmaster’s accommodation and a brewhouse.   John Mann had recently been hired to teach 16 poor children reading, writing and common arithmetic.  He was also allowed to take paying pupils, and offered subjects such as land surveying, merchant’s accounts and book-keeping, which would be useful to sons of farmers and tradesmen.

The Endowed School closed in 1966, and the building has been converted to a private house.

In 1820 the combined population of Market Deeping and Deeping St James was around 2,400.  At the latest census in 2011, it was over 13,000 – and still rising.



Wildlife on Video – from Deeping and beyond

On Thursday, 12th December, local wildlife photographer Dave Benjamin will show videos he has taken around Deeping, Maxey and Helpston, as well as further afield in the UK.  In his own words, he “tries to capture the purity of the moment”.  Sometimes it will be dramatic, like otters at play, and at other times more common occurrences like the dawn chorus, with genuine soundtrack of each event.  

His presentation starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School and should make fascinating viewing, as well as a relaxing escape from chilly December weather.  Everyone is welcome. There is a charge of £3 for non-members.

This snowy scene of motoring in Market Deeping dates from about 1902, when a furry blanket was essential to keep passengers warm.  It shows George and Jane Linnell with their daughter Mary who was born in 1894. They lived in the Market Place, where Mr Linnell’s father, George senior, previously kept a chemist’s shop for over fifty years.  The premises are now “the Square” public house.

George Linnell junior was a member of Lincolnshire Automobile Club, which was formed on 4th January 1901 and is recognised as the oldest motor club in Britain.  Fellow members included local doctors, Henry Benson and William Stanton, and a pioneer motorist from Lincoln – Charles Henry Gilbert.  In 1895 Mr Gilbert actively campaigned against the law which limited the speed of motor cars to four miles per hour, and required a man to walk in front of them with a red flag.  That Act was abolished on 14th November 1896.

On Christmas Day 1899, Charles Gilbert was driver of the first motorised mail delivery service in Lincolnshire.  The Postmaster at Lincoln was keen to ensure that families of soldiers serving in South Africa in the Boer War would receive their letters, even though there were no trains to transport them that day.  Mr Gilbert and assistant Postmaster Mr Taylor drove from Lincoln in a Daimler motor wagonette with half a ton of mail, delivering bags to places around Woodhall Spa, Tattershall and Coningsby.  People gathered to cheer their arrival!  After driving 34 miles at an average of ten miles per hour, they reached the village of New York, where the local Postmaster invited them to share his Christmas dinner.

They arrived back in Lincoln at 6.45pm and Mr Taylor wrote to a full report of the trip, stating there had been no mechanical problems.  Considering they were driving on rough roads, and in darkness some of the time, it was a remarkable achievement.

The photograph showing them setting off from Lincoln, was added to website Flikr.com by a descendant of one of the postal workers.

We should like to wish everyone a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas     



Lincolnshire Customs and Traditions

Please note that our meeting this month is on a Wednesday, 13th November, as the Conference Centre is not available on our usual evening.  We shall be welcoming back Tom Lane and folk singing duo Steppin’ Stones, for another entertaining session.

Tom is an archaeologist with a wide knowledge of Lincolnshire history.  He will describe some of the county’s unusual traditions, accompanied by songs from Nigel and Teri.  We hope you can join them for a cheerful and informative evening.  The event starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre, Deepings School. Everyone is welcome.  Entrance £3 for non-members.

In our large county, some customs are confined to specific regions, but local sayings often spread more widely.  Growing up in south Lincolnshire in the 1950s, with a coal fire in the living room as the only source of heat, anyone who let in a cold draught was liable to be told “You must come from Bardney”.  If that produced a blank expression, the accuser added “You never shut a door!”  We had a vague idea that Bardney was somewhere further north (it’s a village nine miles east of Lincoln) but no explanation of why its inhabitants left their doors open. In fact the saying derives from a legend about Anglo Saxon kings.

Bardney Abbey was founded in the 7th century by King Aethelred of Mercia, whose wife Osthryd’s uncle was Oswald, King of Northumbria.  After he was killed in battle in 641 AD he became venerated as a saint.  His bones were take for interment at Bardney, but legend says that when they arrived after dark, monks refused to open the Abbey door.  During the night they saw a beam of light rising from Oswald’s bier, and realising that they had denied entry to holy relics, ordered that the door must never be closed again.

Bardney Abbey was destroyed by invading Danes in 870 AD, the same year they attacked the abbey at Peterborough (then known as Medeshamstede).  Unlike Peterborough which was rebuilt, Bardney was left in ruins for over two hundred years.  A later Norman abbey on the site was closed in 1538 and by the mid 18th century nothing remained except its foundations, overgrown with grass.

Responsibility for maintenance of the Abbey site is being taken over by the Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology.  Annual church services are still held there on the Sunday nearest to St Oswald’s Day – 5th August.


A new book titled “A CELEBRATION OF MUSICAL MOMENTS AND MEMORIES IN ST GUTHLAC’S CHURCH” has recently been published to coincide with the refurbishment of the church’s organ.  Researched and written by Elizabeth Parkinson, it tells the fascinating story of over 200 years’ music in St Guthlac’s,  from the early gallery musicians, the barrel organ and harmonium to the current William Hill organ.  The book includes many photographs of choristers through the years and describes amusing moments on their legendary outings and life behind the scenes.

Price £8, copies are available from the Parish Administrator (07725 978445), and will also be on sale at our November meeting. All proceeds go towards the organ and music at St Guthlac’s.