People’s Stories

Over the years Deepings Heritage has collected together a large number of personal memories and it is our aim to share some of these memories on these pages.

ANIMALS GALORE AND THE ESCAPING ELEPHANT WHO NEVER FORGOT!

Elephant

The memories of one lifelong resident of Market Deeping , Eric Bowman, were published in a Deepings Heritage book in 1990 and this is being reprinted.

Part of the book gives a fascinating insight into his daily life during his childhood:

“Every 3 years Bostock and Wombwell’s Menagerie would visit Market Deeping. It took up the whole of the Market Place..and stayed for 3 whole days. There were lions, tigers, elephants, leopards, monkeys and many other wild beasts. Mr Hildyard….was the driving force behind this triennial extravagance..He also used to pay for all the children from the local village to visit the Menagerie once each time it came to town.

What a sight it was to behold as the Menagerie approached the town with a big brass band leading the procession the members of which all wore black top hats. The animals following behind in large cages drawn by heavy horses. It was a real spectacle; an event greeted with great excitement by local people and especially the children who would never  otherwise have had the opportunity to see such exotic animals.”

Local newspapers confirm that the menagerie visited on 30th April 1912.  Mr G.G. Hildyard treated all the school children (6d each) and a large number of inhabitants patronized the evening performance on that day. 

Another young resident remembered sitting on the Church wall watching with delight as the parade went round the town before setting up the menagerie in the Market Place. Apparently one of the shopkeepers gave the children carrots to feed the animals.

Miss Day, in her book “The History of the Deepings”  tells the story of Mrs Worsdall who was confronted by the sight of an elephant in the Distillery field whilst out walking one evening! He was eating hay and carried on when he saw her; she hurried to the Market Place to warn the proprietors of the menagerie but was overtaken by the elephant returning to his mates. They say an elephant never forgets and that one never did because tradition has it that he always returned to the same field for his tea!

Market Place, Market Deeping. Early 1900s.

An empty Market Place but imagine the sight as the menagerie came into the town – followed later by the elephant!

“The History of the Deepings” by Miss Florence Day is available for sale.

If you have any memories you would like to have preserved, please do let us know.

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