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.


A Wife ‘worth’ Twenty Guineas

On 5th August 1791, the Stamford Mercury printed this cryptic story about a Market Deeping couple:

“Of selling of wives, we had occasion at different times to record instances, which at best can only be called a disgrace to the parties concerned … Now let it be said that a man, much to his credit has bought his own wife!  In or about the year 1782, Miss A.. C…..g of Market Deeping married Mr T…..n of the same place, and happy enough they were for full sixteen weeks, when for reasons known to many, the bridegroom found it prudent to make a hasty retreat and was lost to his bride and friends for a long space of time.  Tedious no doubt to a young woman, Mr O….n, late of Wisbech, full of love, made his addresses to the deserted fair one and married her.  After they had co-habited together for near two years, Mr T made his appearance, demanded his wife and fully proving his claim, gave to his kind substitute twenty guineas and cordially took his wife to his own care.”

From St Guthlac’s parish register, the couple can be identified as Amy Catling and William Trueman, a carpenter,  who married on 2nd May 1785.  They were both sufficiently educated to sign their names and Amy was from a respected local family.  When her father John Catling died in 1780, he was described as “a considerable butcher, much esteemed by all his acquaintance”. In 1783, her widowed mother married John Bonner, a maker of horse collars in Market Deeping, and Mr. Bonner was a witness at Amy’s wedding.  Four years after her husband’s desertion, Amy Trueman married widower Charles Osborn in Wisbech on 20th July, 1789, describing herself as a widow.

So what were the reasons “known to many” for William Trueman’s “hasty retreat”?  There are no reports in the Stamford Mercury around the date of his disappearance to give any clues.  However, a newspaper called Newcastle Courant regularly printed national appeals for members of the public to apprehend criminals, and the following notice appeared on 22nd July 1786:

“Oakham, June 19th.  Escaped out of the House of Correction at Oakham, in the county of Rutland, over a wall, on Sunday the 18th of June last, about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, WILLIAM TRUEMAN, late of Market Deeping, by trade a carpenter about 24 years of age, born in Whellener (Wellingore) in the county of Lincoln, about 5ft 9 inches high, fair complexion, black lank hair, broad set, dark eyes, had on when he escaped a light short drab coat, velveret waistcoat, a pair of nankeen breeches, round hat bound with ferret, light grey stockings and a pair of half boots.  Whoever will secure the said WILLIAM TRUEMAN and give notice to the keeper of the House of Correction at Oakham, shall receive two guineas reward of me.  HENRY LUMLEY.”

Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible to discover the nature of Mr Trueman’s crime, whether he was re-captured and kept in prison or transported for the next five years, or if he was in hiding until he came looking for his wife in 1791.  It’s hard to imagine the conversation which took place between him and Amy and Charles Osborn.  She was in a difficult situation – her second marriage was bigamous and her first husband was untrustworthy.  Somehow he had acquired the considerable sum of twenty guineas and Amy was “bought back”.

William Trueman eventually returned to his home village, as he is recorded as tenant of a carpenter’s workshop in Wellingore in 1812.  He died at the age of 71 and was buried at Wellingore in 1834.  Whether his wife remained with him, isn’t yet known.  If any reader has Amy Catling in their family tree, perhaps they can tell us…







“Walking in their Footsteps”

You are warmly invited to a free exhibition, featuring some of the fascinating people who have walked along our streets over the centuries.  The event takes place on Saturday, 23rd June between 1pm and 4pm in the Oddfellows’ Hall (next to Tonino’s) in Church Street, Market Deeping.  A wide range of archives will be available to look through, including the 1939 Register of Deepings residents, old maps, scrap books and photographs not exhibited before.  Everyone should find something to interest them!

If you were living in Deeping in the late 1880s, three of these faces would be very familiar.  Second from the left, aged about 27, is Dr Henry Thomas Benson, the local GP.  Next is George Linnell, chemist and dentist, with Walter Marston of the brewery family, on the far right.  George Lee, the elderly man on the far left was less well-known.  He had moved to Market Deeping after retiring as House Steward of Milton Hall near Peterborough.  His daughter, Edith, was married to George Marston.   On the evening of 5th November, 1888, George Lee was at home playing whist with his wife, daughter and son-in-law, when he collapsed “with awful suddenness”.  Mr Marston ran for Dr Benson who lived only a few doors away and arrived in two or three minutes, but was unable to revive Mr Lee who died aged 63.  This sad event enables the photograph to be dated between 1886 when Dr Benson became Medical Officer of Deeping District, and November 1888.

Henry Benson was a doctor here for 34 years, most of that time in partnership with Dr William Edwin Stanton. He had one of the first telephone lines in Market Deeping – number 3.  Even after his retirement in 1924, Dr Benson was active in local affairs, being a member of the Deeping Water Board and the Gas Company.  He died in Worthing in 1942, aged 83.

George Linnell was in his early seventies when the photograph was taken.  He began his business of chemist and druggist in the Market Place about 1838 and retired from his shop near The Bull in 1890.  Believed to be descended from Sir Thomas Linnell who fought against Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, George died in 1904 and is buried in St Guthlac’s churchyard.

Walter Marston was born in Market Deeping, son of brewery owner John Taylor Marston whose premises were next door to The Bull.  Walter competed in athletics and shooting tournaments  in his youth, and was in his late thirties in the picture. He moved permanently to Dorset in 1893 with his family and widowed mother-in-law, Mary Lee. He was a director of the Dolphin Brewery in Poole for 46 years, on the Town Council and the Workhouse Board of Guardians there.  He died in Poole in 1915, aged 64.

At our meeting on 8th November this year, we shall be welcoming back another well-known local personality, architectural historian  Dr Jonathan Foyle, who was educated at The Deepings School.  He is the author of five books about historic buildings and presented the BBC TV series “Climbing Great Buildings” and “Henry VIII: Patron or Plunderer?” 


 Jonathan’s talk will be titled “Peterborough Cathedral – a Glimpse of Heaven”, to coincide with the building’s 900th anniversary.  This special event starts at 7.30pm in the Main Hall of Deepings School.  Tickets costing £3 for members (£6 for non-members) will be available at our Exhibition on 23rd June.  They can also be obtained from Geoff Whittle (01778 343390), or by emailing




Views of the Bridge at Deeping St James

This hand-coloured photograph of the bridge over the river Welland between Deeping St James and Deeping Gate pre-dates 1899.

The tall red brick building has a sign reading “Shillaker” and was a drapers & grocery shop run by John Shillaker and his family, until the premises were sold in April 1899 to the Chesterfield family.   Mr Shillaker then moved his business from the Bridge Foot to Church Street, Deeping St James.   The building on the far left is The Bell public house.  Beyond the trees, the tall chimneys belonged to Waterton Hall. 

The picture has been carefully posed with a boatman framed by the centre arch of the bridge.  This could well be William Robinson, water bailiff and fisherman who lived in Bridge Street.  Mr Robinson was born in the village in 1864 and involved with the river all his working life.  He and his wife Betsy had twelve surviving children by 1911.

At the time of the photograph in the 1890s, it is likely that no motor vehicle had ever been driven over the bridge. The very first car to pass through the Deepings came in 1897.  In 1908, the local vicar, Samuel Skene expressed the opinion that “the motor car has made great strides lately, but it will never take the place of a good horse.”

In 1937 “The Lincolnshire Magazine” included an article written by Cecil R Burchnall, who lived in Bridge Street, near the Bell Inn, and was at that time an assistant schoolmaster.  Describing the river, he said “The oldest inhabitants speak of the days of the barge, before it was ousted by the railway.  Barges carried 20 tons and were generally in convoys of five, drawn by two horses.  One time-worn oak post stands precariously by a cut water in the bridge, as a link with the barges of yester year.”

A register of inhabitants taken in 1939, shows that Letitia and Hilda Chesterfield were still running a drapery business in the Bridge Foot premises.   William Robinson, aged 75, had retired from his role as river bailiff, but also remained in Bridge Street with his wife Betsy.

In this recent photograph, the Bell Inn and former drapers shop (now a private house) have light-coloured exteriors.  Waterton Hall and its tree-lined grounds have been replaced by modern houses and the railings along the riverbank have gone.

It is still a green and peaceful scene, with the arches of the bridge reflected in the water.

Opium Eating in the Fens in the 19th Century

It is said that more opium used to be sold by chemists in the fenland towns of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, than in all the rest of England put together.   The dried residue obtained from the juice of opium poppies was broken into small pieces and taken by mouth to alleviate symptoms of ague and rheumatism.  Even after the fenlands were drained and malarial conditions became less common, the opium habit continued, especially among labouring people and elderly women.   There are even accounts of some fenland pubs – for example at Crowland – adding opium to beer.  

At our meeting on 10th May,  Dr Eric Somerville, a retired GP from Wisbech, will reveal much more about this aspect of 19th century life.

Across the country, patent medicines containing opium were widely available at that time.  The most well-known was Godfrey’s Cordial, advertised as “efficacious in most of the complaints incidental to young children”.  It was recommended for soothing babies to stop them crying, and “if the mother of an infant takes an occasional dose, as prescribed in the directions, she will find it most beneficial both to herself and child”!

The mixture was sometimes referred to as Mother’s Friend or Poor Child’s Nurse, but became notorious for causing the deaths of young babies.  In 1871 an inquest was held in Stamford on a month old baby who had been dosed with a locally-made version of Godfrey’s Cordial, containing treacle, tincture of opium and spirits of wine.   The chemist, George Rees of Red Lion Square,  commented that the cordial was made up by almost every chemist and widely sold, especially to the poor.  With large families living in small cottages, it’s understandable that parents would try to quieten their children to get some sleep.  Unfortunately, overdoses were not uncommon, with some infants dying of malnutrition, because they were too drowsy to feed.

Eventually, laws were passed to remove narcotics from patent medicines and ban the sale of opium.  However, opium poppies (papaver somniferum) are currently being grown commercially in Lincolnshire, for processing by pharmaceutical companies.

The picture shows a poppy field in the Metheringham area.

Eric Somerville gave an excellent talk about quack medicines at our meeting in May last year, and his topic of Opium Eating  is sure to be interesting.  It starts at 7.30pm in the Conference Centre at Deepings School.  Everyone is welcome.  There is a charge of £2 for non-members.