Records of Woodhall Spa and Neighbourhood, by J. Conway Walter

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Title: Records of Woodhall Spa and Neighbourhood
       Historical, Anecdotal, Physiographical, and Archaeological, with Other Matter

Author: J. Conway Walter

Release Date: November 4, 2008  [eBook #27160]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Transcribed from the 1899 W. K. Morton edition by David Price, email




Author ofLetters from the Highlands,” “Forays among Salmon and Deer,” “Literæ Laureatæ,” “The Ayscoughs.”
Notes on Parishes Round Horncastle, &c.

w. k. morton, high street.


The series of “Records” of various kinds which will be found in the following chapters are drawn from personal reminiscences, extending over more than half a century, combined with notes collected from many different sources during at least two-thirds of that period.  In dealing with such material one is apt, even unconsciously, to be egotistical, and to linger too long and too fondly over scenes and incidents of which one might say, in Virgilian phrase, quorum pars, si non magna, at parva fui.  Should the reader deem any portions unduly prolix, he will, perhaps, kindly excuse it on this score.  But I have known several instances, and especially of late two in this neighbourhood, when a person advanced in years and of wide experience, has passed away, and there has been a general, and doubtless sincere, regret that he has gone, and all his store of accumulated information gone with him.

Circumstances have given me such opportunities—and enjoyed so long—of acquiring a knowledge of Woodhall Spa, and of most matters connected with it, that I am probably stating only the unvarnished truth, when I say that no one else living could bring together the varied details, however inadequately treated, which will here be found.  Some of them may seem of small importance in the eyes of many—“caviare to the general”—but I have thought it better that even these minor details should not be consigned to the limbo of the forgotten, because unrecorded.

I have approached the subject from different points of view—historical, anecdotal, naturalist, and archæological, so as to cater for the different tastes of readers.

Inheriting an interest in Woodhall Spa, hallowed by cherished associations, my aim has been so to unfold its many attractions, even in beast, bird, and flower, as to communicate an interest in it to others as well.

In publishing a third issue of these Records, I am bound in duty to thank a wide circle of readers for the interest so far taken in the p. 4work.  I had now hoped to give it a more attractive form, but the low price at which a guide-book must be sold, in order to bring it within the reach of a general public, precludes a more expensive “get-up” of the volume.  The only change, therefore, has been that the edition is brought “up to date” by a few necessary corrections and additions.  To future readers I would only say, in Ovidian phrase:—

Si qua meo fuerint, ut erunt, vitiosa libello,
Excusata, precor, Lector amicus, habe.

J. Conway Walter.


It has been remarked that the discovery of many of our medicinal springs has been due to some romantic incident, or, in other cases, to some occurrence partaking almost of the ludicrous.  At the famed Carlsbad, for instance, a princely hunter pursues his stag into the lake where it has sought refuge, whereupon the unusual cries of his hounds, too eagerly breasting the waters, speedily reveal to him the strongly thermal nature of the spring which feeds the lake, and the discovery has benefited the thousands who annually frequent that health-giving resort from almost every land.  On the other hand, in the case of our own Bath, although well known to the ancient Romans—as also in the later case of Bolsover—tradition avers that an unhealthy pig, instinctively “wallowing in the mire” produced by the oozing spring, and emerging from the uncleanly bath cured of its ailment, was the humble instrument to demonstrate the health-restoring power of the water, to the subsequent advantage of suffering humanity.  Other cases, more or less legendary, might be adduced; let these suffice.

The discovery, however, of the Woodhall water, if leas romantic, is no myth, shrouded in the mystery of a distant past, since it has the advantage of being, comparatively, of so recent a date, that the historian can consult the contemporary testimony of eyewitnesses still living, or of those to whom others have related the particulars from their own personal knowledge.  The following account has been thus collected, and put into connected form:—

In the early years of this 19th century there lived a certain John Parkinson, Esquire, a scion of a family of position and wealth in the county, who owned, with other property, the estate of Woodhall. [5]  Being of a speculative and enterprising bent of mind, it is said that he became enamoured of three ideas or projects, which he thought he had the means and opportunity of carrying out.  One of these was to sink a coal mine, a second was to plant a forest, and a third was to build a city.  For the last purpose he purchased from the Crown a tract of fenland, p. 6situated between Revesby and Boston, being an outlying allotment of the original ancient parish of Bolingbroke.  Here be built (about 1816) a street of houses, which he named New Bolingbroke.  The speculation, however, proved a failure, probably owing to the loneliness of the position; and it was not till several years later, when the property had passed into the possession of J. Banks Stanhope, Esq., of Revesby Abbey, who spent much money on needed improvements, that the new “city” became a fairly populous village, as it is at the present time.

Mr. Parkinson’s second project was the planting of a forest.  For this purpose he secured a large tract of waste moorland, in the parishes of Roughton and Kirkby, lying to the south of the present road to Horncastle, and within some two miles eastward of Woodhall Spa.  This land he planted extensively with fir and oak, and in course of time they became a dense wood.  This growth has since then been largely destroyed by fire, or has yielded to the woodman’s axe, and at the present time there are left not more than forty acres of the original “forest,” the rest being chiefly open moor, the whole going by the name of “Ostler’s Plantations,” Mr. Ostler being the agent employed in the work and becoming himself (as will be seen) eventually the proprietor.  Thus of two eggs which Mr. Parkinson brooded over, and desired to hatch, one may be said to have been addled, and the other did not prove useful to himself:—

The best laid plans of mice and men
Gang aft agley.

We now come to the third “incubation,” which has, it may fairly be said, proved (though once more, not to himself) a “golden egg.”  It has been observed that he had conceived the idea of searching for coal.  For this purpose he selected a spot which has since become the site of the Woodhall well.  It is said that he was guided in this by the advice of a Mr. J. Clarkson, residing at that time at Moorby, not far from his residence at Bolingbroke, and who had had some previous experience among the Yorkshire coal mines.  The boring was begun in the year 1811, and was carried on under the supervision of Mr. Clarkson.  When the shaft had reached a depth of about 540ft., there occurred an inrush of clear, salt water, which compelled the excavators to retreat.  The work was, however, afterwards resumed, a brick conduit for the water being constructed, and so, p. 7at the cost of great labour, and by shifts of men working day and night, without intermission, a depth of over 1,000ft. was attained.  It is said (we know not with what truth) that Mr. Parkinson and his agent were induced to go on with the boring to this extent, because the men brought up in their pockets fragments of coal (which they had of course themselves taken down), and the hopes of success were thus buoyed up.  When, however, this depth of 1,000ft. had been attained, and no vein of coal discovered, the unfortunate proprietor was compelled, from lack of funds, to abandon the enterprise.  The boring to such a depth was, of course, a work extending over a lengthy period, and the occasional exhibition of these fragments of coal by the labourers led to false reports of success being periodically circulated.  It is said that there were frequent scenes of great excitement at Mr. Parkinson’s residence; persons of all classes, even the poor, flocking thither to lend their money to him on the bare security of his notes of hand, hoping themselves to derive a large profit from the expected mine.  On one occasion the bells of Horncastle Parish Church were rung in the night, announcing the joyful tidings that coal had been found.  But, alas! all these hopes were illusory.  Mr. Parkinson himself became a ruined man, and many a poor investor lost his all, sunk in the mine.  The attempt thus proving abortive, the mine was closed, and remained so for several years, Mr. Parkinson himself disappearing from the scene, and his Woodhall property passing into other hands—the ancestors of the present owners of the estate.  As the result of this collapse, other portions of Mr. Parkinson’s property in the neighbourhood also changed hands.  Mr. Ostler, who has been already mentioned, had advanced to him large sums of money, and in lieu of repayment he acquired the “Forest,” since in consequence (as I have said) called “the Ostler Plantations,” and which still remains the property of his representatives.

During the making of the shaft a serious accident occurred.  Two men were below in the shaft working at the bore, a man being at the top to hoist them, by machinery, to the surface, to be out of danger whenever, in the process of boring, an explosion was about to take place.  They had arranged their explosive for a blast, had lighted the fuse, and then gave the signal to be hoisted up; but the man at the mouth of the mine had gone to sleep, their signal was disregarded, and they were left unable to help p. 8themselves.  The explosion took place; one of them, William East by name, was killed, and his body much mangled; the other man, Tyler, was seriously injured, but escaped with his life. [8a]

A poem was written on the occasion by Mr. John Sharpe, of Kirkstead, [8b] which I here give.  The rural muse was somewhat unclassical in those days, and versions vary, but it was in the main as follows:—

It was early one morning, the 15th of June,
I was called from my bed by a sorrowful tune;
With sad lamentations a mother appeared,
And sad were the tidings I then from her heard. [8c]
“Our William,” she said, “has been killed in the pit;
Another is injured, but not dead yet.
By firing some powder to blow up the stone,
Poor William was killed, and he died with a groan.”
I put on my clothes, and I hastened away.
Till I came to the place where poor William lay.
He lay on some sacks all covered with gore:
A sight so distressing, I ne’er saw before.
I inwardly thought, as his wounds were laid bare.
How many before had been slain in the war. [8d]
In a moment of time he was summoned away;
How needful that we, too, should watch and should pray.
The Lord help us all through our hopes and our fears,
To live to his praise all our days and years.

The pit, once closed, remained so for some years, and there seemed no prospect of anything but loss accruing from the undertaking.  But meanwhile, as time passed on, “Mother Earth” was in labour.  The water in the shaft gradually accumulated, eventually reaching the surface, and then overflowed, running down an adjoining ditch, which skirted what is now called “Coal-pit Wood.”  This overflow naturally attracted attention.  Such things as “Spas” were not unknown.  There was one at Lincoln, not far from the present Arboretum, and the Woodhall water being found to be salt, as was said, like sea water, several persons tried it for different purposes.  A very old man (living, in 1899, at p. 9Kirkby-on-Bain) [9a] states that he and several others in that parish used the water as a purgative (a property which it still retains).  Others used it as increasing the appetite (one of the effects still remarked).  Joseph East, lately resident at Kirkstead, and brother of the man killed in the pit, was sent, as a boy, to get a bottle of it to administer to a sick horse.  The Squire, Mr. T. Hotchkin, found it very beneficial for his gout, and the servant, who brought the water for him, mentioned this to a woman at Horsington, named Coo, suffering from rheumatism.  By the advice of her doctor, she tried the water, and was completely cured.  In October, 1903, died Mrs. Wilson, mother of Robert Wilson, gardener, of Martin Dales, aged 92.  She was the oldest patient then living who had baths at Woodhall before the first bath-house was built.  There was only a wooden bath, at a charge of 1s. per bath.  Many similar [9b] cases are recorded by the older inhabitants, which proved beyond doubt the efficacy of the water in the ailments of man and beast, especially for rheumatism and skin diseases.

This led to the re-opening of the mine shaft about the year 1824.  In 1829, or 1830, a small protecting structure was erected, a windlass was put up, which was worked by a horse walking round and round, drawing the water from “the well,” as it came now to be termed, and an open brick tank was constructed in which the poor could dip, a veritable modern Siloam. [9c]

In 1834 a bath house was erected by the late Thomas Hotchkin, Esq., the then owner of Woodhall, and in the following year the Victoria Hotel was built by him, his whole outlay amounting to some £30,000.  Provision was thus made for the reception of visitors, and the treatment of their ailments on a scale more than adequate for the public requirements at the time.  Dr. Barton, Dr. Scott, and other medical practitioners successively resided at the Spa, but for some years longer (as will be shewn in p. 10the next chapter) the difficulty of access prevented any great influx of patients, such as we have seen in more recent times, and a primitive state of things still prevailed, such as in these days can be hardly realised, and Woodhall Spa was probably for some years little known beyond the neighbourhood, or the county.

About sixty years ago a second well (remembered only as little more than a floating, vague tradition) was sunk on other property, not far from the present Mill-lane, near Kirkstead Station.  A solitary survivor of the workmen engaged in sinking it died in 1897, well known to the writer.  This well was subsequently filled in again, the water being (as was said) too salt for use.  It is more probable that the water tasted strongly of iron, as the local water, found within a few feet of the surface, is generally impregnated with this ingredient, so much so, that it commonly “ferrs” water bottles if allowed to stand any time in them, this being the effect of its ferruginous properties.

An account of the well would hardly be complete without some particulars, so far as they can be obtained, of the geological strata which were pierced by the shaft.  These are said to have been gravel and boulder clay, Kimmeridge and Oxford clays, Kelloway’s rock, blue clay, cornbrash, limestone, great oolite, clay and limestone, upper Estuarine clay, Lincolnshire oolite, and Northampton sands, Lias, upper, middle, and part of lower.

Of the chemical ingredients of the water, as several accounts have been given by different authorities, it is sufficient to say here that its two most important elements are the iodine and bromine, in both of which it far exceeds any other Spa.  The only known water which contains a greater proportion of bromine is that of the Dead Sea, in Palestine.


To those who visit Woodhall Spa, in its present advanced and advancing condition, it must be difficult to conceive the very different condition of the locality even in the middle of the 19th century.  If the Victorian era has been a period of remarkable progress, nowhere has it been more so than at Woodhall Spa.  The place was, in those days, only accessible with great difficulty.  The roads, scarcely indeed worthy of the name, were so bad that the writer well p. 11remembers going there, as a boy, with his father, for the first time, when the ruts were so deep that the pony carriage, a four-wheeled vehicle, broke in the middle, and had to be abandoned by the roadside, and they had to return home to Langton, distant about five miles, on foot.  The road (now the Horncastle-road, and in excellent condition) passed, for a mile or more, over a tract of sandy moorland, and when the ruts became too deep for traffic on one track, another was adopted, and that, in turn, was abandoned when it became impassable.  It was indeed a veritable Sahara on a small scale.  The road to Tattershall was fairly good, having probably been an old Roman highway. [11a]  Such roads are locally called “rampers,” i.e., ramparts.  The road to “Kirkstead Wharf,” or ferry, where now a fine bridge spans the river Witham, was also in fairly good condition. [11b]  The road which now runs from St. Andrew’s Church by the blacksmith’s shop and Reed’s Beck to Old Woodhall and Langton was just passable with difficulty.  A small steam packet plied on the river Witham, between Boston and Lincoln, calling at Kirkstead twice a day, going and returning, and a carrier’s cart from Horncastle struggled through the sand once a day, each way, in connection with it. [11c]  The condition of the road remained but little altered till shortly before the opening of the “loop line” of railway p. 12between Boston and Lincoln in 1848.  In preparation for this event the Horncastle-road was put into a fairly good state of repair.  In connection with the railway two rival coaches were run from the Bull and George Hotels at Horncastle, calling at Woodhall Spa, en route to Kirkstead Station.  As yet, however, the traffic was lacking to make the enterprise remunerative.  The brace of coaches were then merged in one, but, for the same reason, that arrangement was presently abandoned, and for some years there remained only the carrier’s cart, slightly accelerated in speed, and even that was sometimes precarious in its journeys.  The writer has found it necessary, on arriving at Kirkstead Station on a dark night, to shoulder his own portmanteau and carry it himself, for lack of other means of transport, from Kirkstead to Langton, a distance of six miles. [12]  At length, in 1855, the line between Kirkstead and Horncastle, with a station at Woodhall Spa, was opened, which has proved to be one of the most paying amongst railway ventures in the kingdom, and has opened up communication between Woodhall Spa and all parts of the country.  From these particulars it will be seen that, although the whilom owner of the Woodhall Estate (Mr. Thos. Hotchkin) had spent large sums of money (some £30,000 it was said) in building the bathhouse and hotel in 1834–5, yet the establishment for several years laboured under great disadvantages owing to its difficulty of access.  Indeed, persons wishing to visit the Spa from a distance had, for the most part, to bring their own carriages; or, if arriving by the ordinary means of transit, and wishing to move beyond the immediate precincts of the hotel, they had to hire a conveyance from the Victoria Hotel, where the supply was very limited.  Moreover, in those days some of the lighter kinds of carriage now in vogue, such as the modern dog-cart, were unknown.  The chaise and the gig, large or small, were the conveyances in common use, the days not being yet past when the farmer’s wife rode to market on a pillion behind her husband.

In matters spiritual there was also a corresponding backwardness.  The nominal district p. 13of Woodhall Spa consisted of outlying portions of the parishes of Woodhall, Langton, Thornton and Thimbleby, these villages themselves being distant from four and a half to seven miles.  A person standing in the centre of the cross-roads, near the present Church of St. Andrew, could have one foot in Langton (his right), the other in Woodhall (his left) and hold his walking stick before him resting in Thornton.  The nearest portion of Thimbleby began some 500 yards away northward, opposite the present blacksmith’s shop.  The portion of Langton extended from St. Andrew’s Church to Mill-lane, near the present Kirkstead Station.  Thornton extended on the opposite, southern, side of the Kirkstead Wharf-road, from the present station, for a distance of some miles eastward, with the parish of Kirkstead running parallel to it on the south.  The portion of Woodhall extended eastward from the aforesaid point at the cross-roads, and included Woodhall Spa and other land lying north and further east.  In Mill-lane there was (a) a Presbyterian Chapel, served by a minister residing at Horncastle, also (b) a Wesleyan Chapel on the Kirkstead-road, the minister (a layman) being also resident in Horncastle.  The only Church of England service in the near neighbourhood was held at the beautiful little church in the fields, distant about a mile to the southwest, being part of the remains of Kirkstead Abbey; but as this benefice was a donative, or “peculiar,” not under episcopal jurisdiction, [13] it might be opened or closed, and stipend paid to a minister or withheld, according to the will of the proprietor for the time being of the Kirkstead Estate.  The services have, therefore, at times been performed somewhat irregularly, and it has now been closed since about 1880.  Owing to the distance of the district from the parent parishes and its inaccessibility, the religious interests of the inhabitants had, at that time, been much neglected.  It was said that they lived on a heath, and were, many of them, virtually heathens.  And this was in truth only a slight exaggeration, for many of them attended no place of worship, they rarely were visited by a minister of any denomination, and many of their children were unbaptized; and when, a few years later, there was a resident curate, he broke down under the weight of his spiritual responsibilities amid such a population.  A change, however, in this respect was effected p. 14during the forties.  The Rev. Edward Walter, Rector of Langton and Vicar of Old Woodhall, two of the parent parishes, whose name is still held in reverence among the older inhabitants of Woodhall Spa, took up the matter.  He held Church of England services for a time in a room at the hotel.  He then got together an influential committee, with the Honourable Sir Henry Dymoke, the Queen’s champion, at their head, [14a] and they raised a sum of money, to which, among others, the Queen and the Dowager Queen Adelaide [14b] contributed, sufficient at first to erect a school and school-house, where the services were temporarily conducted; and finally for the Church of St. Andrew and the vicarage, which were erected in 1847, the church being consecrated by Bishop Kaye, of Lincoln, on Sept. 14th in that year.  The architect was Mr. Stephen Lewin, of Boston, who built several other churches in the neighbourhood, notably that of Sausthorpe, near Spilsby, which is a very fine edifice. [14c]

p. 15The Rev. E. Walter at first endowed the benefice with £20 a year and 30 acres of land, others giving smaller donations.  Subsequently, when some church land was sold in the parent parish of Woodhall, which would have augmented his own benefice, he conveyed £230 a year to the benefice of Woodhall Spa; or, as it was then called, Langton St. Andrew, as the church stood on part of Langton Glebe; and this was augmented in 1889 by his son, through the sale of land, formerly Langton Glebe, to the extent of a further £112.  We may fitly add that the Rev. E. Walter rests in the churchyard of St. Andrew, the place of his own creation, with the tombs of other members of his family near his own.  Were a worthy epitaph needed, it might well be, simonumentum quæris circumspice.  No one, in his sphere, has been a greater benefactor to Woodhall Spa.  It should be added that a large Wesleyan Chapel was subsequently built; also a Primitive Methodist Chapel, and more recently a Roman Catholic Chapel, with resident priest.  The various parochial sections were constituted one ecclesiastical district in the year 1854; and in recent years have, with some portions of the parishes of Kirkstead and Martin, been made one civil parish, with its Urban Council.

In the year 1884, the late Stafford Hotchkin, Esq., proprietor of the Woodhall Estate, expended a considerable sum in re-furnishing the Victoria Hotel, and making other improvements, in a costly style; and in 1887 the hotel and bathhouse, with about 100 acres of the estate, were purchased by an influential syndicate, who have since laid out a very great amount in the enlargement of the hotel and grounds, the improvement of, and additions to, the bathhouse, in supplying expensive automatic machinery for the well, and other developments for the convenience or entertainment of visitors. [15]  This gave a great impetus to the growth of the place generally.  Another hotel, the “Eagle,” was erected, which is excellently conducted.  A very large establishment, the Royal Hotel, with winter garden, etc., has been built by Mr. Adolphus Came, embracing an area of 1,000 p. 16square yards, covered by a glazed roof, and holding out many attractions during the season; while streets of lodging houses, semi-detached or single villas, and handsome residences have sprung up in all directions.  With the growth of the population came a need for enlarged church accommodation; and the present St. Peter’s Church was erected by subscription at a cost of over £1,800, and was opened by the Bishop on Sept. 14th, 1893, the foundation stone having been laid in the previous year by the Right Honble.  E. Stanhope, M.P., Secretary for War.  It comprised, at first, only nave and South aisle; in 1904 chancel, organ chamber and vestry were added, and the church was consecrated by the Bishop on St. Peter’s Day, June 29, in that year; the total cost being about £3,700.  There is a fine organ, and peal of tubular bells.  The interior fittings are mainly the gifts of generous friends.  The altar rails and sanctuary carpet were given by Mrs. Randolph Berens, of London, a frequent visitor to the Spa.  The very ornate reredos, occupying the whole width of the east end, was presented by Mrs. Cator, of Fairmead Lodge, in memory of her husband, the late Colonel Cator.  It is of oak, richly pinnacled and crocketted.  The centre panel contains a basso relievo representation of the triple Crucifixion, with the Virgin and St. John in niches on either side.  Above are the emblems of the four Evangelists.  The buttresses are crowned by the four Archangels, SS. Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel.  Over the super-altar is the inscription, in raised letters, “And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me”; the inscription on the wings being “Ad Majorem, Dei gloriam, et in piam memoriaun Thomœ Gulielmi Cator, qui in Christo obdormivit die xiv° Januarii.  A.S.  MDCCCC.”  This is the work of Messrs. Hems and Sons, of Exeter.  The pulpit, of handsome carved oak, executed by the same artists, was presented by Lieutenant Stafford Vere Hotchkin, of the 21st Lancers Regiment, in memory of his father, the late T. J. Stafford Hotchkin, lord of the manor.

Of this church we can only say that all true lovers of architecture must regret the style in which it was erected.  The original idea, strenuously advocated by the late Bishop Suffragan, Dr. E. Trollope, one of our greatest authorities (as well as by the present writer, as patron of the benefice) was that the Church of St. Andrew should be enlarged by doubling the nave and extending the chancel.  Arrangements p. 17had been made to obtain stone for this purpose from the ruins of Stixwold Priory, of which that church was originally built.  A suitable edifice would thus have been erected, in a central position.  Unfortunately the Bishop died while the question was yet sub judice, and, as most persons of taste must feel, counsels less wise prevailed.  The present structure of brick has been called a barn; it is of no architectural pretensions; the tracery of the windows is of the most meagre description.  The ground around it is too limited to be used for burial, although the churchyard of St. Andrew is rapidly filling, and at no distant date a cemetery must be provided.

The writer, while incumbent of Woodhall Spa, in conjunction with Mr. R. Cuffe, M.R.C.S., then lessee of the Victoria Hotel, commenced, in 1873, a Cottage Hospital for the poor, on a small scale, which was largely beneficial, patients being admitted almost literally from Land’s End to John o’Groats’ house.  Some left their crutches behind them, nailed to the walls of the bathhouse; and it may be added, as shewing the efficacy of the water, that cases occurred of patients who, on their arrival, could only get about painfully on crutches, but who yet, before leaving, ran in foot races at the village sports.  The cottage then rented has of late years been superseded by the much larger Alexandra Hospital, a substantial building, under the patronage of the Princess of Wales, erected through the exertions of the Rev. J. O. Stephens, rector of Blankney, on a site presented by the syndicate.  It was opened in 1890, and has conferred large benefits on the suffering poor.  The medical officer is Dr. Williams, L.R.C.P., Ed., Brookside Cottage, by whom patients are treated with great skill.  He has published a pamphlet on the Woodhall water and treatment.  He is ably assisted by Mr. H. W. Gwyn, L.S.A.  A pamphlet on the same subject was also published by the late Mr. A. E. Boulton, M.R.C.S., Horncastle.  Mr. R. Cuffe, M.R.C.S., Surgeon-Major, has also a large residence, the Northcote House Sanatorium, for the reception of high-class patients, who are under his own supervision.  He has had a large and long experience in every variety of ailment for which the Woodhall treatment is adapted, having been sole lessee of the Spa establishment from 1866 to 1883; he has written much on the subject; was himself mainly instrumental in founding the British Balneological and Climatological Society, which has as its members the p. 18leading physicians of the chief watering places in the kingdom; and at his hands patients receive the most scientific treatment, he having been the first to introduce, many years ago, the electrolytic treatment, so effective in internal cases.

A “Home for Gentlewomen,” in reduced circumstances, and needing the Woodhall treatment, was established in 1894 by the present writer, in co-operation with Mr. Cuffe, as hon. medical officer.  It is under the patronage of his Grace the Duke of Rutland, and other distinguished persons.  It was at first located in two bungalows, but now occupies a roomy residence on the Horncastle-road.  It has been very generously supported, and has proved a great boon in many needy cases.

The annals of the Woodhall neighbourhood are not without their tragic features; and deeds of lawlessness have occurred equal to anything of the kind recorded in modern times.

On June 22nd, in the year 1822, a young man named Stennet Jeffrey was returning from Horncastle Fair to the farm of his employer, Mr. Warrener (still occupied by members of the same family), when, as he was passing along the footpath through a part of Whitehall Wood, called “the Wilderness,” he was attacked by, as was supposed at the time, two men against whom he had given information of their poaching.  They were accompanied by a female named Sophy Motley, still remembered by some of my informants as a big, masculine woman.  After a desperate struggle for his life, a track being trampled down round the tree, by which he tried to elude them (the grass, as tradition says, never growing again afterwards), he was overpowered and foully done to death.  His body was found thrown into the ditch near at hand, with the throat cut.  They carried off his watch, which he had bought at the fair that day, and his money.  A sovereign was found near the spot a few years afterwards by a man who was ploughing in the adjoining field.  The present writer remembers being told in after years, by a man living at Woodhall, who was at the time working in a field not far off, that he heard cries for help, but did not know what they meant, and so the poor fellow was left to struggle unaided in the unequal conflict.  The tree has been seen by the writer, round which he tried to escape.  It stood at the south-west end of the path through the wood, about two miles from Woodhall Spa, and was inscribed with the rudely-cut names of many a visitor to p. 19the spot.  The parties to the murder were supposed to have come from Coningsby Moor, and this was confirmed by the fact that they afterwards stopped for refreshment at a small public house kept by Mrs. Copping, at Fulsby, which lay in the direction of Coningsby Moor.  Near there some bloodstained clothes were found concealed in a hedge.  A reward of £100 was offered for their apprehension.  The woman Copping, at the public-house, was, it is said, fully aware of their guilt, but dared not say anything about it.  The two men were convicted, and transported for life.  The woman Motley was arrested on suspicion, but there was not sufficient evidence to convict her.  In after years a man at Coningsby, named Paul Tomline, confessed on his deathbed that he had been a third party to the murder, having assisted in holding Jeffrey down while his throat was being cut.  It is further stated that the woman, Sophy Motley, on her deathbed, said that the stolen watch would be found at the bottom of her box.

In the forties and fifties poaching was carried on in so openly defiant a manner, and on so formidable a scale, as is seldom heard of in these days.  The writer was a party concerned in the following incident, not, be it said, in the immediate neighbourhood of Woodhall, although within easy reach of it.  While he was visiting a worthy baronet for the purpose of shooting with him, they were informed by the head-keeper, as they met him one morning after breakfast, that he had received a private intimation that a gang of poachers, living in a neighbouring town, had chartered a special train to bring them down, on the following evening, to shoot some of the preserves, the line of railway skirting the property.  We at once decided to give them a warm reception.  This was not an entirely new thing for which we were unprepared, and the keeper had a most powerful mastiff, a monster Cerberus, who could plant his forepaws on the stoutest man’s shoulders and pull him down.  The baronet’s only son, the writer’s great friend, with whom he had walked many a league in the Alps, and many a mile—with its “bittock”—over the Scotch moors, was “keen for the fray.”  No less so was the writer.  As the estate comprised three parishes, and it was not known at what point the poachers would “detrain,” it was evident that we should have an extended frontier to protect, and it was decided at once to despatch a messenger to the owner of an adjoining estate, the M.P. for the Division, asking for the loan of his keepers, to p. 20co-operate with our own.  Watchers were to be sent to various points, swift-footed vedettes, to come into immediate touch with the enemy on their arrival, and to report the direction taken by them, and their number.  Everything was arranged in good time before the morning was over.  It was settled that the keeper was to come to the hall at 9 p.m., when the son and the writer would be ready to join them.  We were none of us to take firearms, but to be furnished with stout sticks.  The evening passed slowly, in our eagerness for the “joust.”  But at nine o’clock the keeper came with a look of disappointment on his countenance.  News had got abroad of the preparations we had made for the gang’s reception; an ally, lurking near, had telegraphed that it would not be safe for them to venture on their raid, and the train had been countermanded.  Since then the genial baronet has “crossed the bar,” as a Lincolnshire poet hath it; but of late the writer has had the pleasure, almost annually, of meeting her ladyship at Woodhall Spa.  She was brought up in a parish closely connected with Woodhall, and she may almost be said to return to her “native heath” to renew her years.

The reader will please excuse this digression, as it illustrates the condition of things under which occurred the incident of local history which I am now about to give.

A no less atrocious murder than that in the Wilderness was committed, within less than a mile of the same place, at Well-Syke Wood, which again is about two miles from Woodhall Spa.  The shooting of the wood belonged to the Rev. John Dymoke, afterwards the champion, who rented it from Lord Fortescue.  In the year 1850, the head keeper, Richard Tasker, received a written intimation that a gang of poachers intended to visit the wood on a certain night, and the writer of the letter recommended him, for his own sake, to keep away.  Tasker, however, was lodging not far from the wood, with a small farmer named Emanuel Howden, who also occasionally acted as a watchman; and the two men, accompanied by the “rabbiter,” James Donner, went to the wood, to protect their master’s pheasants.  Howden hung back, not liking the undertaking; Donner went off to watch the wood from another point.  Presently a shot was heard, and on Howden and Donner coming to Tasker, they found him lying on the ground severely wounded, and he died the following day.  It was a bright moonlight p. 21night, [21a] and Donner tried, for a time, to follow the poachers, but they eluded him.  This occurred in a field just outside Well-Syke Wood, at the north-west corner, then occupied by William Hutchinson, grandfather of the present tenant, whose house adjoins the Horncastle-road, some two miles from Woodhall Spa.  Most of the poachers were believed to have come from Horsington; two of them, brothers, named Bowring, and a third, Pearson Clarke, and another named Hinds; a man named Stennet was also arrested on suspicion; but they were all eventually discharged, there being no means of identifying them, as the murdered man was the only one who came to close quarters with any of them.  Along with these, it is believed there was also a man named Joseph Kent, from Tattershall Thorpe, who is supposed to have fired the fatal shot.  As Tasker approached the wood, this man came forward and recommended him to go home.  Tasker called out that he was not yet going home, and that he knew him, whereupon Kent, finding that he was recognised, fined the shot. [21b]

The following is a less exciting incident.  A few years later a man, representing himself as a beggar, called at Kirkstead Hall, about a mile from Woodhall Spa, asking for relief.  Something was given to him, but it not being sufficient to satisfy his desires, he indulged in threatening language, unless he was treated p. 22more liberally.  At length he became so violent that the door was closed in his face, and he was told that they would fetch the constable, whereupon he went off.  The female inmates, being afraid that he might return, if they were left alone, thought it safest to send for the constable, and he, with the keeper, followed the man and apprehended him.  He was handcuffed, his feet tightly tied together, and put by them into a cart, in which the constable, without the keeper, drove off to Horncastle, to place him in the lock-up, then called “The Round House.”  As they journeyed on their way, near the “Tower on the Moor,” the man, lying at the bottom of the cart, complained to the constable that the cords on his legs were cutting into the flesh; “Would he take them off?” adding that the handcuffs secured him fast enough.  The constable accordingly got down from his seat, and took off the cords.  As he was remounting, the man slipt out of the cart behind, and, bounding off into the wood, “Ostler’s Plantations,” close by, turned, as he mounted the boundary bank, defying the constable to follow him.  The latter could not leave his horse, and, the man being very powerfully built, he also knew that he was more than a match for him single handed.  The man disappeared.  Some one coming up assisted the constable to tie up his horse and make a search for the prisoner; but all they found were the handcuffs, which he had wrenched off, lying inside the wood not far away.  Two present inhabitants of Woodhall saw the constable pass their house, driving the cart with the man lying in it.

A very remarkable burglary was committed about two miles from Woodhall Spa on February 2nd, 1829, at Halstead Hall, a fine specimen of a “Moated Grange,” to which reference will be made in another chapter.  It was at that time occupied by a farmer, Mr. Wm. Elsey, his wife, and farm servants.  At eight o’clock in the evening, when the servant men went out to “supper up” the horses, they were attacked by seven or eight men, thrown down, their legs tied, and their hands secured behind their backs, and each was left in a separate stall.  The stable door was then locked, and one of the gang remained outside on guard.  The burglars then proceeded to the hall, and knocked at the back door.  One of the servant girls asked who was there.  She received the reply, “Open the door, Betty.”  She did so, whereupon four or five men rushed into the kitchen.  One of the maids escaped, and ran to the room where Mr. p. 23and Mrs. Elsey were sitting.  Mr. Elsey was smoking his pipe, and Mrs. Elsey was preparing something for supper.  She saved her silver spoon, which she was using, by slipping it into her bosom.  Mr. Elsey seized the poker to defend himself, but, on seeing their number, prudently laid it down.  They then rifled his pockets and took his watch and money; also making Mrs. Elsey turn her pockets out.  They then obliged the two to go into a small storeroom or closet, locked the door, and tied a hay fork across it.  They then collected all the plate, to the value of £30, and £50 in cash; having first regaled themselves with a hearty meal.  They also took all the silk handkerchiefs which they could find.  Mrs. Elsey, in her confinement close by, complained to the burglars that she was very cold, and begged them to let her warm herself at the fire; accordingly, with the gallantry of a Dick Turpin, one of them brought her out, but seeing that she was noticing them, he ordered her into the store-room again, giving her, however, some greatcoats which were hanging in the passage near.  When they had ransacked everything within reach, they compelled Mr. Elsey to go upstairs, one walking before him and another behind, each holding a pistol, and telling him that if he made any resistance he would be shot.  They then, in the same fashion, obliged Mrs. Elsey to go up after him.  The two were then locked up again, and the marauders politely wished them goodnight, and went off with their plunder, saying that if any alarm was given they would return.  Mr. Elsey, about two hours afterwards, by the help of a small hammer and an old knife, succeeded in making a small hole through the brick wall of the closet, through which one of the maids was able to thrust her arm, and set them at liberty.  The only article recovered was a plated silver teapot, which was found in Halstead Wood, near at hand.  Outside this wood ran a bridle path leading towards Woodhall Spa, and in the course of the night the inmates of a farmhouse, standing close to this path, were disturbed by the voices of men passing by toward “the Spa.”  One of these men was soon captured, and in due course hanged at Lincoln Castle on March 27th following; two more were taken that year, and hanged on March 19th in the next year, 1830.  Of these two, one was known as “Tippler,” the other as “Tiger Tom.”  “Tiger Tom” had been the terror of the neighbourhood, and the general opinion was that no one could take him.  But p. 24two powerfully built and fearless men, David English, of Hameringham, and a gamekeeper named Bullivant, were set to accomplish the task, and they succeeded in running their man to ground, and securing him at “The Bungalow,” a public-house on the Witham, near Boston. [24]  With them was hanged another noted character known as “Bill” Clarke, convicted of sheep-stealing.  His was the last case of hanging for that offence.  The last of the gang was not captured till two years later.  He was the one who had planned the whole affair, having formerly been a servant of Mr. Elsey, and therefore well acquainted with the premises at the Hall.  He, however, escaped hanging, being transported for life, as the excitement over the affair had by that time cooled down; and, further, it was pleaded in his favour, that he had prevented a bad character among them, named Timothy Brammar, from shooting Mr. Elsey, or ill-treating the maids.  Of this same Timothy Brammar it is recorded that his own mother having foretold that he would “die in his shoes,” he carefully kicked them off as he stood on the scaffold, to falsify the prediction.  It is further stated that the man transported was, with two other criminals sent out at the same time, thrown overboard, as the three were caught trying to sink the vessel in which they were being conveyed “beyond the seas.”  These men, with the exception of this former servant of Mr. Elsey, were all “bankers,” as they were then called, i.e., navvies; and such men in those days were usually a very truculent class.  A robbery of a minor kind was cleverly frustrated in Woodhall about the year 1850.  A labourer’s wife, residing at a cottage on what is now called “Redcap Farm,” had been taking her husband’s dinner to him in the fields.  On returning, rather earlier than usual, she went to the bedroom upstairs.  While in the room she detected the legs of a man, who had concealed himself under the bed.  Retaining her presence of mind, she merely made a trifling remark to her cat, and went down again, and for some minutes made a p. 25noise, as though busying herself about her usual household work.  She presently got out of the house, and ran to some men working near.  The thief thinking, by her cool behaviour, that she had not noticed him, remained still in his place of concealment; and she quickly returned, accompanied by two men, who captured him; when he was found to be a well-known thief, who had been convicted more than once of similar offences.  Not far from the scene of this occurrence, another attempted robbery was frustrated.  An aged couple lived in a solitary house, distant from any high road, near the wood called “Edlington Scrubs.”  After they had gone to rest a couple of men broke into the house.  Hearing a disturbance, the wife opened the one bedroom door upstairs, connected with the room below by a “Jacob’s ladder,” and looked down through the trap door at the ladder head, with a “dip” in her hand, to see the cause of the disturbance.  She was immediately accosted with the demand, “Your money, or your life.”  She replied, very deliberately, “Well, life is not worth having without the money.”  One of the men began mounting the ladder, but meanwhile the husband had armed himself with a strong bill-hook, a tool for cutting hedges; he took his place by the trap door, and said to the burglar on the ladder, “I shall cut your head off if you come up here.”  This position he maintained, moving his weapon backwards and forwards over the trap door, his figure being revealed to the thieves by the light of his wife’s dip, until day began to break, when, to avoid being recognised, they went off, having to content themselves with what spoil the second man could find in the room below.  On another occasion, a narrow escape from highway robbery occurred in Woodhall under the following circumstances.  It was at the time of the great August Fair at Horncastle, much larger at that time (in the forties) than it is at the present day; for it then lasted some three weeks.  That fair has been the occasion of many robberies, and more than one murder.  Skeletons have been found buried under the brick floors of public-houses in the town, being doubtless all that remained of those who had fallen the victims of the “sacra fames auri.”  The principal farmer in Woodhall was riding home leisurely from the fair late in the evening, when at a point in the road between Langton and Woodhall, about two fields from Old Woodhall Church, where a cartshed then stood contiguous to the road, two men rushed out from the p. 26concealment of the shed and seized his bridle.  One of them told him roughly to give up his money, or he would pistol him.  The other held up a lantern to his face, and then said, “Oh, you’re not the man we want; you may go, and think yourself lucky.”  The farmer in question was not much of a horse-dealer, and would not be likely to have much money about him.  The man really wanted was a well-known character, then living at Stixwould, by name Grantham, who would be almost certain to be going home with pockets fairly full, as he dealt largely in horse-flesh, and the men had probably seen him make a good bargain or two in the fair that day.  The farmer, thus set at liberty, hurried to his home, only two fields distant; and, having a shrewd guess for whom they were lying in wait, he sent an active young fellow by a short cut across the fields to warn Grantham.  The lad succeeded in intercepting the latter before he arrived at the point of danger; and Grantham, turning his horse round, rode home by another route, through Thimbleby, instead of Woodhall, and arrived at his house in safety, thanks to the thoughtfulness of a neighbour.

There are some good historic names among the older residents of the Woodhall Spa district.  Howard is one, a name, which still stands high in the peerage of England.  Gaunt is another frequent name; some of the members of the family, in the fine build of their bodily frame and their dark hair and complexion, seeming to indicate descent from ancient Norman blood.  Fynes, or more properly Fiennes, is another; implying a connection with the Ducal House of Newcastle; the father of the present generation (a former tenant of the writer) having been named Charles Pelham Fynes.  Monuments of the Fiennes family are common in neighbouring parishes, and they still hold considerable property in the surrounding district.


The great charm of Woodhall Spa is its “Rus in Urbe” character.  The visitor can hardly go for ten minutes in any direction from his hotel or lodgings but he finds himself by the woodside, among the hedgerows or on the heath, where the jaded spirit, or the enfeebled frame, may draw fresh energy from the bracing air, richly charged with ozone, and even at times perceptibly impregnated with the tonic flavour of the iodine.  The author of a recent publication p. 27who visited Woodhall Spa, in 1897, says: “Woodhall is as unlike the usual run of fashionable watering places as one can well imagine.  It is a charming health resort—situated on a dry, sandy soil, where fir trees flourish—there are wild moors, purple with heather, and aglow with golden gorse; a land of health, and the air deliciously bracing.  I do not think (he adds) there is a purer or more exhilarating air to be found in all England, or for that matter out of it.” [27a]

Of the surrounding scenery it need hardly be said that we are not in the land of “the mountain,” though we have the “brown heath, and shaggy wood,” and occasionally, not far off, “the flood,” sung of by Scotia’s bard.  But within sight are the Wolds, whose precipitous sides have, to my knowledge, astonished strangers, who, judging from the country traversed by the railway from Peterborough, expected to find the whole county as level as a billiard table. [27b]  The flatness of the country, however, is amply made up for by other redeeming features.  Within a mile of the Spa a view is obtained stretching more than 20 miles, with the grand Cathedral (which Ruskin says is “worth any two others in the kingdom”) crowning the “steep” hill of Lincoln on the horizon.  “’Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,” says the poet Campbell; and this prospect, slightly undulating, with extensive woods barring it at intervals, and village spires rising from their midst, seen through the marvellously clear atmosphere which we often enjoy, is a sight worth seeing.

An old writer [27c] describes the air as being “crass, and full of rotten harrs”; and Drayton, p. 28in his “Polyolbion” [28a] speaks of the “unwholesome ayre, and more unwholesome soyle”; but that condition of things has long ago passed away.  Another charming effect of these distant prospects is the glorious sunsets.  Kingsley, in his “Hereward the Wake,” truly says, the “vastness gives such cloudlands, such sunrises, such sunsets, as can be seen nowhere else in these isles.”  A writer, whom I have already quoted, says, “I am inclined to think the sky scenery, if I may be allowed the term, the finest and most wonderful in the world.”  As to “its gorgeous sunsets, you look upon an atmosphere saturated with colour, so that it becomes opalesque; and the sinking sun, seen through the vibrating air, is magnificent.  From the slopes of far California I have looked down upon the sun dipping into the wide Pacific, amid a riot of colour, but nothing like this.” [28b]  Nor is this any exaggeration.  The visitor to Woodhall may see it for himself, and the writer has often gazed upon it.  Towards evening the soft blue of the distance becomes gradually lit up by the lowering sun with the most gorgeous and varied shades of purple, gold, and ruby, until he sinks below the horizon in a blaze of crimson glory.  Then follow, softer, more mellowed tints of violet, pink, emerald green, exquisite greys, and varying hues of the most delicate kinds, until they slowly fade away into the shades of night, or the silvery sheen of the moon.

For the student of nature, there are special attractions in the botany of the neighbourhood; scarcely less in its ornithology.  The wild, four-footed creatures also are in unusual variety; and within easy reach the antiquarian will find objects of very special interest.

In these pages it would be impossible to treat of all these subjects fully.

I will take botany first.  And I would here make the preliminary observation, that, in specifying different plants to be found in the near vicinity, I shall not indicate exactly the habitat of each, for the sake of preserving to Woodhall Spa in the future some of its choicest attractions.  The track of the invading tourist is too often marked by massacre.  A French ambassador, describing some years ago the country life of our gentry, said that one of the first proposals, made after breakfast by the host, would be, “Let us go out and kill something”; and this national tendency has disastrously affected our Flora as well as our Fauna.  A p. 29writer has said, “There is a base sort of botanist who prods up choice treasures wantonly to destroy them.  They are murderers, to be classed with those who have stamped the quagga out of Africa, or those who fly to firearms if Nature sends a rare migrant creature of air, or earth, or water, in their way.”  Go through our English lakes, as the writer did recently, after not having visited them for several years, and you will find, for instance, the falls of Lodore, where once the parsley-fern abounded, now entirely stript of it.  Just as—to take a parallel case—in a certain stream in Borrowdale, where some years ago the writer caught so many trout that the widow, in whose cottage he lodged, offered to keep him any length of time gratis, so long as he would supply her with fish at the same rate; now, in that stream hardly a fish is to be caught, from its so constantly being “flogged” by the tourist.  The same holds good, though, so far, in a less degree, at Woodhall.  “Ichabod” may be writ in large characters over the record of some of the plants once plentiful.  I shall, therefore, leave the botanist, with few exceptions, to hunt out the specimens for himself, only stating that they exist.  But is not this, after all, the chief charm of his pursuit to the true lover of Nature?  To have everything found to hand for him may indeed lessen his labours, but it robs him of all the gratification with which he can exclaim “Eureka,” as his eyes rest upon the long-sought prize which he has found for himself.  The difference between the true botanist and the sportsman has been thus defined: “The sportsman seeks to kill; the botanist seeks to find, to admire, and to preserve.”  Would that it were always so.  From the great difference in the soils in the immediate neighbourhood, varying from the lightest sand to the stiffest clay, or from the peat and bog of the fen to the gravel of the moor, or the leafy mould of the wood, there is also a very great variety of wild plants.  The late Rev. R. H. Webb, author of “The Botany of Herts,” was some years ago a frequent visitor at Woodhall Spa, and he assured the writer, that in all his experience he had never known so large or so interesting a variety as was to be found in this neighbourhood.  On one occasion the writer, collecting wild plants for a flower show, gathered, in the course of a morning’s walk, more than 110 different specimens.  Probably the rarest plant was the Silene Quinque vulneralis, the discovery of which led to a lengthy correspondence, it being rarely found in England, though fairly common in Jersey.  p. 30It was growing in a field which now forms part of the garden of the Victoria Hotel.  The alterations necessary to make that transformation extinguished it, or rather buried it out of sight; but as some correspondents gave instances where it had recurred in localities in which it had for years been unknown, there is no absolute reason why it should not also reappear in this case.  Should it do so, we can only cry, parce, precor, to the too ruthless collector.  The Osmunda Regalis, again, a few years ago was very plentiful; the writer has had plants of it which grew to be three, four, and even five feet in height, but it is now quite extinct.  Not only so, but the writer, finding this to be the case, replanted some roots of it in 1897, where he fondly hoped they would escape observation, but, on going to look for them the following year, he found the soil dug up all round the place by the trespassing marauder, and not a trace of them was left.

The following plants have been mentioned by different authorities as among those which are be found.  The Rev. E. Adrian Woodruffe Peacock, secretary to the Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union, says: “We may expect to find some of the following rare plants—Ranunculus Hederaceus, Corydalis claviculata, Raphanus Raphanistrum, Silene Quinque-Vulnera (most rare), Silene Anglica (not so rare), Vicia Bobartii, Cotyledon Umbilicus, Sedum Villosum, Sedum Reflexum, Drosera Anglica, Epilobium Tetragonum, Campanula Ranunculoides.  At a meeting of the Alford Naturalists’ Society the secretary exhibited the following plants, obtained from the Woodhall district, presenting a striking difference to the plants found about Alford, owing to the sandy moorland soil of Woodhall:—Calluna Erica (ling), Erica Tetralix (cross-leaved heath), Artemisia Vulgaris (mugwort).  Marrubium Vulgare (white horehound), Teucrium Scorodonia (wood sage), Hydrocotyle Vulgaris (white-rot), and the Hardfern (Lomaria Spicant); also fruiting specimens of Solidago Virgaurea (golden rod), Lepidium Campestre (field pepper-wort), Cotyledon Umbilicus (wall penny-wort).”

I conducted the members of the Lincoln Natural History and Archæological Society round the neighbourhood a few years ago, in the month of April, and they reported 39 plants as being then in flower, the most interesting being Saxifraga Tridactylites (stone-crop), Draba Verna (vernal whitlow grass), Erodium Cicutarium (hemlock, stork’s bill), Cotyledon p. 31Umbilicus (wall pennywort), and the Tussilago Petasites (butter-bur), Stellaria Holostea (greater stitchwort); also Parietaria Officinalis (wall pellitory), not yet in bloom, and in a pond Stratiotes Aloides (water soldier) in great abundance.

More recently I conducted the members of the Lincolnshire Natural History Union through the district, in the month of August, and the following is a list of their chief “finds”; Hieracium Boreale (hawkweed), Lysimachia Vulgaris (yellow loose strife), Melampyrum Pratense (yellow-cow wheat), Tycopus Europeus (gipsy-wort), Solidago Virgaurea (golden rod), Malva Moschata (musk mallow), also a white variety of the common mallow (Malva Sylvestris), the two cresses, Lepidium Smithii and L. Campestre, Sparganium Simplex (simple bur-reed) the mints (Mentha Sativa, and M. Arvensis), Lythrum Salicaria (purple loosestrife), Geranium Columbinum (long-stalked cranesbill), Scutellaria Galericulata (skull-cap), Polygonum Hydropiper (water pepper), Lysimachia Nemorum (yellow pimpernel), Rhamnus Frangula (buckthorn), Gentiana Pneumonantha (blue gentian), Erica, Cinerea (heath), Malva Rotundifolia (round-leaved mallow), Marrubium Vulgare (white horehound), Calamintha Acinos (basil thyme), Eriophorum Angustifolium (cotton grass), Narthekium Ossifragum (bog asphodel), Galeopsis Bifida (hemp nettle), Senecio Sylvaticus (ragwort), three St. John’s worts, viz. Hypericum Pulchrum, H. Quaodrangulum, and H. Perforatum, Spergula Arvensis (corn spurrey), Saponaria Officinalis (common soap wort), Drosera Rotundifolia (round-leaved sundew), D. Intermedia (intermediate variety), Epilobium Macrocarpum (long-fruited willow herb), E. Parviflorum (small flowered do.).  E. Palustre (marsh do.), Circœa Lutetiana (enchanter’s night-shade), Pimpinella Magna (greater burnet saxifrage), Valeriana Sambucifolia (elder-leaved valerian), Solidago Virgaunea (golden rod), Gnaphalium Sylvaticum (high land cudwort), Hieracium Umbellatum (narrow-leaved hawk weed), Alnus Glutinosa (common alder), Juncus Acutiflorus (sharp-flowered rush), Anagallis Pallida (pale-coloured pimpernel), Pedicularitis Sylvatica (dwarf red rattle), Pinguicola Vulgaris (common butter-wort), Viola Flavicornis, also called V. Ericetorum (yellow-horned violet). [31]  The Cichorium (succory) and p. 32Parnassia Palustris (grass of Parnassus) are found in the neighbourhood.  The Myrica (“Gale” or bog-myrtle) is very abundant, and a useful preventive against the moth if placed in wardrobes or drawers.  Like the Osmunda, the Pinguicola (butterwort), appears to be now extinct, owing either to drainage or to the ever-offending collector.  Another interesting plant which at present is not to be found, though it may at any time recur, [32] is the Holy thistle, or Mary thistle (Carduus Marianus).  Formerly plentiful, a mile away from the Spa, about the ruins of Kirkstead Abbey, it has been of late years entirely stubbed up by successive tenants of the farm.  There is one locality, about three miles distant, to which specimens were transplanted a few years ago, and where it still survives.  It also grew not far from the church of Old Woodhall, but there also farmers’ operations have exterminated it.  Called the “Milk” or “St. Mary’s” thistle, because its white-veined leaves were traditionally said to have been lashed with the virgin’s milk, it is doubtless a survivor from the gardens tended and cherished by the monk of old.  The Botrychium Lunaria (moonwort) and Ophioglossum (adder’s tongue) are found within 300 yards of the Baths (occasionally intermittent for a season); the Trichomanes (English maidenhair) grows in one solitary place on the inner walls of a closed well, though entirely unknown anywhere else for many miles round.  Several varieties of ferns grow very luxuriantly.  Before leaving the botany of the neighbourhood, I would direct the reader to an appendix at the end of this volume, giving a list of a considerable number of plants with their local vernacular names, which was compiled for me by a naturalist, who made this subject his special study during a prolonged sojourn at Woodhall Spa.

There are several different mosses, and a great variety of fungi.

This varied flora conduces to a corresponding p. 33variety of insect life.  On one of the occasions referred to above, the following beetles were found:—Loricera Pillicornis, Geotrupes Spiniger, G. Stercorarius, Elaphras Cupreus, Leistotrophus Nebulosus, Hister Stercorarius, Aphodius Fœtens, A. Fimitarius, A. Sordidus, 22-Punctata, and Sphœridium Bi-pustulatum.

Of butterflies there is not a great variety.  The Papilio Machaon (swallow-tail) used to be common about the reedy pools and bogs near the Moor; but owing to drainage and clearance none have been seen for several years.  The huge heaps of the aromatic ant were formerly very common in the woods close to the Spa, but the eggs being a favourite food for the pheasant, and collected by the keepers for that purpose, there seems to be none left.


I now proceed to speak of some of the birds of the locality.  And again it may be said, as in the case of the wild flowers, that, from the variety of soils, there is a corresponding abundance in the species frequenting the neighbourhood of Woodhall.  Unfortunately another remark made of the flowers also applies to the birds.  “Ichabod” may be written in large characters over the records of several.  In the writer’s youth, an old couple lived close to the Tower on the Moor, about a mile from the Spa, in a cabin of their own construction, made chiefly of sods, then locally called “bages.” [33]  Old Dawson, or “Tabshag,” the soubriquet by which he was more commonly known, lived with his wife the rather wild existence of a squatter, on the waste, under sufferance from the owner.  He kept a pig, and was wont to boast that he possessed the highest pigsty and the lowest barn in the country, because the sty was a structure of his own erection, in the old brick tower, above the level of the surrounding ground; while his straw was stored in an excavation (still existing) several feet below.  At that time between the Tower and Bracken Wood there was a stretch of waste land, several acres in extent, consisting of bog, interspersed with tussocks of coarse p. 34grass, and straggling alders and birches, still known by the name of “The Bog’s Nook,” or corner. [34a]  On this ground the common green plover—Vanellus cristatus—then commonly called the “Pyewipe,” [34b] bred in large numbers; the eggs were, as they are still, regarded as a delicacy, and old “Tabshag” used to make a considerable sum of money every year by sending hampers of these eggs by coach up to London for sale.  So familiar he was said to be with the habits of the bird that he could tell by its cry how many eggs were in the nest. [34c]  This land is now under cultivation, and the plaintive cry of the plover is heard no more, or only seldom.  The plover, indeed, is still with us, but in numbers lessening every year.  There are probably not now as many plovers’ nests in the whole parish as there formerly were in a single ploughed field.  The writer, as a boy, was somewhat of an expert in finding these nests.  He has watched the birds making them, which they do by turning round and round, with the breast or belly on the ground, thus forming a saucer-shaped hollow, in which they sometimes place two or three fibres of twitch as a lining.  One bird makes three or four of such nests, and finally selects the one which, presumably, she deems most unnoticeable.

Sixty years ago black game were found on the moorland called now “The Ostler Plantations,” [34d] but though one still heard of them “in the forties,” they were then either extinct or a rapidly vanishing quantity.  At the same time also the “boom” of the bittern might still be heard in the marshy parts of the same ground, but they are also now among the has been’s.

No more shall bittern boom,
No more shall blackcock crow:
For both have met their doom,
The sport of human foe.

p. 35From the character of the Ostler ground, formerly a very secluded tract of mixed wood, moor, and morass, it has been frequented by a great variety of birds. [35]  The heron bred there within the last twenty years, a solitary nest remaining in a clump of trees in the south-west corner next to Tattershall, until it was blown down by a gale, and, the particular tree being shortly afterwards felled, the bird never returned.  Drainage and the destruction of trees by the woodman’s axe, or by accidental fires, have so dried the ground as to reduce greatly the numbers of certain birds of aquatic or semi-aquatic habits.  The coot “clanking” in the sedgy pools is no more heard.  The moor-hen with those little, black, fluffy balls which formed her brood scuttling over the water to hide in the reeds, is rarely seen.  The wild duck has, indeed, in one or two instances nested near a still-surviving pool within the last ten years; a nest was once found by the writer among the branches of a pollard willow, overhanging a pool, some five or six feet from the ground.  He has also shot teal on odd occasions lying in the open; but both these birds are now rarely seen, and the same may be said of the snipe, “jack” and “full.”  The latter were once plentiful, so that it was a common occurrence to put up a “whisp” of them, whereas now one seldom sees more than three or four in a whole season.  A delicate little bird, very palatable on the table, was the waterrail, now almost extinct.  The writer used to have permission to shoot along the “ballast ponds” beside the railway, and he has frequently shot them there.  The woodcock is still with us.  The poet painter, Dante Rosetti, kept one as a favourite pet; we of p. 36Woodhall are more prosaic, and like to see the bird rise out of the bracken before us, and fall to our shot, eventually to appear nicely cooked on a toast before us at table.  But of late years drainage has reduced their numbers.  Although we could, of course, never at Woodhall, compete with the shooter on the Irish bogs, where as many as 100 or 200 are sometimes shot in a day; yet I could at one time almost always get a brace when I wanted them by trying certain spots which were their regular resort, and among my notes I find this: “Nov. 16, 1872, shot Bracken wood, got five woodcock, making 20 in three days.”  [N.B.—Bracken wood, as the visitor may not know, is within one field of the Bath-house at Woodhall Spa.]  Some years ago certain sportsmen (?) in this neighbourhood used to go to the sea coast every year, in October, at the time of the arrival of the first flight of woodcock (the second flight is in November), and shot them in considerable numbers, when they were resting, exhausted by their flight; hardly a creditable practice, and unworthy of a true lover of nature.  A wood in Kirkstead, named “Bird-Hag Wood,” was formerly a favourite haunt of the woodcock, and I have shot many in it; but it was cleared away in the seventies. [36a]  Woodcock occasionally breed on the moor, and a nest was found some years ago within 80 yards of the road to Horncastle, opposite the Tower on the Moor.  Among my notes I find this: “Dec. 5, 1872, we saw about a dozen woodcock in Bird-Hag Wood, but only three were shot.”

I have just mentioned Bird-Hag and its woodcock.  Pleasant memories of that wood have lingered with more than one sportsman.  A former poetic owner of Kirkstead has written of it thus [36b]:—

p. 37Remote Bird-Hag, that favourite preserve,
To crown some chosen day, the choice reserve
Where noble oaks their autumn tints display,
And fern gigantic checks the sportsman’s way
But well is toil and trouble there repaid,
By the wild tenants of that oaken shade,
While rabbits, hares, successive, cross your road,
And scarcely give the time to fire and load,—
While shots resound, and pheasants loudly crow,
Who heeds the bramble?  Who fatigue can know?
Here from the brake, that bird of stealthy flight,
The mottled woodcock glads our eager sight,
Great is his triumph, whose lucky shot shall kill
The dark-eyed stranger of the lengthy bill
Unlike the pheasant, who himself betrays,
And dearly for his daring challenge pays.
Small notice gives the woodcock of his flight;
Not seen at once, at once he’s lost to sight.
Yet short his flight, and should you mark him down,
The chances are that woodcock is your own;
But quick the hand, and no less quick the eye,
Would stop him as he hurries by;
Few are the birds, whate’er may be their sort,
More try the skill, give more exciting sport.

A few words may be said on the pheasants and partridges; and first of the former.  The breed on the Ostler ground have a history.  The late Sir Henry Dymoke, of Scrivelsby Court, used to rear, in large numbers, a white breed of pheasant, and as, with the exception of the Ostler ground, he, with his brother, had almost the whole of the shooting, extending from Scrivelsby to the Witham, they spread over that ground, and sought a kind of asylum in the dense cover of the Ostler plantations.  Further, the writer’s father-in-law imported an Indian breed, called the “Kalege” pheasant, a very handsome bird; and these two strains have affected the breed on that ground, and, doubtless, have also had their effect on pheasants in the neighbourhood generally.  White broods of pheasants are from time to time hatched on the ground; also piebald varieties are not uncommon.  In the year 1898, a cream-coloured specimen was shot.  Some of the cocks have at times a decided fringe of blue or purple in their plumages from the Kalege mixture.

As to partridges: It is only in recent years that the French, or red-legged breed (Cannabis rufa) have established themselves here.  In the sixties, though said to have been introduced into England by Charles II., they were almost, if not entirely, unknown here.  The writer shot them in Cambridgeshire in the fifties; and from the south-eastern coast and counties they have persistently spread, until now we have them everywhere.  In the first instance, probably, they were brought across “the silver streak” by a gale, like the sand grouse, of which we have read, on the coast of Yorkshire.  But whereas p. 38the sand grouse were immediately shot as curiosities, the red-leg, being a bird (as every shooter knows) given to running, knew how to take care of himself, and, like many another unwelcome intruder, he came to stay.  The flesh is decidedly inferior in flavour to that of the common English brown partridge.  I well remember a practical joke being played on a Woodhall keeper.  The “Frenchmen,” as they were called, had only just arrived.  A party of us were out shooting, and a red-leg was shot.  The keeper, seeing the new and handsome-looking bird, was very proud of it, and though he had never yet tasted one, he loudly proclaimed, in his ignorance, that it would be as good in the eating as fine in the plumage.  A day or two after we were out shooting again.  Luncheon time came, and we lay stretched on the sward under a spreading tree, on a hot day in September, where the ladies joined us, bringing the refreshment.  Cold partridges were among the fare, and instructions had been given beforehand that the “Frenchman” should be specially reserved, to hand to the keeper.  In due course the Captain passed on to the keeper—as being specially favoured “above his fellows,” by the attention—half of a partridge.  Nothing was said, and we all busied ourselves with the viands before us, but the keeper was under our careful observation.  Presently his features were seen to be considerably distorted by wry faces, as he turned the leg or the wing about in his hands, while picking them, with some difficulty, to the bone.  Probably the bird was not only a “Frenchman,” but a tough old cock into the bargain.  At length he could stand it no longer, and, looking round at us, he said, “Dal it! Captain, but this bird’s a rum ’un.”  “Don’t you like it?” was the reply; “why, it’s the handsome Frenchman you admired so much, when it was shot the other day.”  “Well, then,” said the keeper, “I wish all such Frenchmen were at the battle of Water-gruel.  I’ll back the English.” [38]

p. 39There are some rather curious facts in connection with the brown English partridge and the French variety.  Though different in their habits, and, it is said, even hostile to each other, they yet, in some instances, consort.  I once shot on the moor three brown and one red-leg, out of the same covey, all young birds.  They had evidently been reared together in one brood, and the old birds were of the brown species.  Mentioning this to a friend of large experience, he told me that he had known several instances where the eggs of the two kinds had been found laid in the same nest.  The eggs are, of course, easily distinguishable, those of the common partridge being of a greenish drab colour, while those of the red-leg are of a dull, cream colour, covered with small brown spots.  I have been informed by another authority that the eggs of the red-leg have also been found in the nest of an outlying pheasant. [39]  A curious provision of nature, conducing to the preservation of the species, may be here mentioned as interesting; the partridge, while sitting on her eggs, has no scent.  On one occasion a man was consulting me about a tombstone at St. Andrew’s Church, Woodhall.  We walked into the churchyard together, and stood conversing opposite the grave in question.  I was aware that a partridge was sitting on her nest concealed in the grass between that grave and the next, and therefore would not approach very near.  Suddenly I perceived that he had a terrier with him, which was very busily hunting over the churchyard.  I begged him to keep it in.  He was rather p. 40indignant, and replied that it could do no harm in the churchyard.  I remarked that he was not aware that within eight or ten feet of us a partridge was on her nest, and I did not wish her to be disturbed.  He thereupon called in his dog, but that only brought his dog nearer to the nest, hunting the while; and the dog actually passed over the nest without scenting the bird. [40]  The eggs were hatched the next day, and that doubtless accounted for her sitting so closely.  Whether or not from an instinctive consciousness of this safeguard is not for me to say, but the partridge is rather given to selecting her nesting place near a highway or a footpath.  I have known several instances of this, and only last year I repeatedly saw both the parent birds sitting on their nest together, on a bank close to a public footpath which was daily traversed.

To show how closely a partridge will continue to sit, under very trying circumstances, I give here an anecdote of what occurred in a parish adjoining Woodhall Spa, as it was related to me by the chief witness, the Squire himself.

In a meadow adjoining Roughton Hall, a partridge made her nest in a slight depression of the surface.  The meadow was, in due course, mown, the mower passing his scythe over her without injuring her, and unaware of her presence, the depression having still enough grass to conceal the nest.  The field was afterwards “tedded,” i.e., the grass was tossed about by a machine, which again passed over the nest, still leaving her unscathed and unmoved.  In the process of “cocking,” the field was next horse-raked, the rake passing over the nest, with the same result.  One of the haymakers, however, nearly trod on the nest; this drove the bird off, behind him, so that he did not observe it.  But a friend was near at hand.  The squire, seeing the bird fly away, went to the spot, found p. 41the hidden nest, and counted in it the unusual number of 19 eggs (promise of a good partridge season, weather permitting).  He at once removed to a distance all the hay lying near, to prevent her being disturbed again, and watched the result.  Within a quarter of an hour the partridge quietly returned to her nest.  Ten days later she successfully brought off a brood of seventeen, two bad eggs remaining in the nest.  Of course, as the hatching time draws near, the mother, feeling the young lives under her, sits more persistently than at an earlier period; but surely this mother partridge exhibited a remarkable instance of fidelity to maternal instinct, after passing through no less than four trying ordeals.

Of wild pigeons we have three kinds: the common woodpigeon or ringdove, of which there are large flocks; the stockdoves, which go in pairs, and (as their name implies) build their nest on a solitary stump or tree, or occasionally in a rabbit hole.  The turtledove, though common in the south of England, is a migratory bird, and in these parts not a constant visitor.  A “wave” of them spread over the Midland counties in 1895, and since that they have been seen in smaller numbers.  The late Mr. J. Cordeaux, F.R.G.S., M.B.O.U., one of our greatest authorities, says that its note is lower and more of a querulous murmur than that of the ringdove.  In size it is not much larger than a missel thrush.

The first of these pigeons is the bird named the “Culver,” in old writings, as Spencer sings in romantic ditty:—

Like as the culver, on the bared bough,
   Sits mourning for the absence of her mate,
And in her song breathes many a wistful vow
   For his return, who seems to linger late,
So I, alone, now left disconsolate.
   Mourn to myself the absence of my love,
And sitting here, all desolate,
   Seek with my plaints to match that mournful dove.

Of woodpeckers we have on the moor and in Bracken Wood at times, three kinds: the common green species (picus viridis) which is generally plentiful; the lesser spotted (picus minor), not seen every year, but occasionally; and, still less frequently seen, the larger spotted (picus major).  Of the former of these spotted kinds, seeing three together, I shot one a few years ago; and the keeper shot another for me more recently, for our Naturalists’ Museum at Lincoln.

Of the “birds of prey,” so called, the greatest part are extinct, or nearly so, too often from a mistaken belief in their destructiveness; p. 42whereas they are really useful allies of the farmer, if not also of the sportsman.  In the cause of the latter, they, for the most part destroy (if they destroy game at all) the weakly members, so conducing towards keeping up a vigorous breed, and for the farmer they destroy smaller vermin, the mice which, but for them, would multiply (as they have done in several places) until they become a plague.  In the year 1890, a very large bird was reported as being seen about the woods near Woodhall, but I could not get a sight of it myself, nor could I get anyone else to give a description of it, except that it was very large.  After a time it disappeared from Woodhall, and was reported as being seen for a time about Revesby, and on November 8th an eagle was shot by the son of a farmer residing at Tupholme Hall, in a wood at Southrey belonging to Mr. Vyner.  It proved to be a male bird, in good condition, measuring 6ft. 7in. across the wings, and weighing 11lbs.  I rode over to see it, but it had been sent to the taxidermist to be stuffed.  It was a sea eagle (Haliactus albicilla).  The kite (milvus ictinus) used to be common 40 years ago; its presence being notified by our hens cackling, and ducks quacking, as they called together their broods, when they espied it soaring at a considerable height above.  If a reckless chick, or duckling, neglected to take the warning, and seek shelter beneath the mother’s wings, there was for a moment a rushing sound, a general confusion in the poultry yard, a half-smothered scream, and the kite flew away with a victim in its claws. [42]  p. 43I have seen this more than once myself.  The kite is now quite extinct in this neighbourhood.  The same may be said of the buzzard (buteo vulgaris).  Although their food was chiefly mice and small birds; perhaps occasionally game, but not generally; since, though a very fine bird in appearance, they were not rapid enough on the wing to overtake the partridge in full flight; yet the keepers waged war against them “to the knife.”  Many is the buzzard I have seen nailed up with the pole-cats and other vermin in the woods at Woodhall.  But they are now seen no more, and a handsome and comparatively harmless ornament of our sylvan scenery is gone beyond recall.

The Hen-Harrier (circus cyaneus), a more active bird than the buzzard, is another of the “Ichabods.”  Its last known nesting place was on the top of “The Tower on the Moor,” near Woodhall.  As a boy, the writer has climbed that tower for the eggs, and he has now a very fine specimen of the old bird stuffed, measuring about 40 inches across, from tip to tip of the wings.  These birds were wont to fly at higher game than the buzzard, and doubtless did at times destroy partridges; but they also fed largely on water-rats and frogs, and were not above gorging themselves on carrion.  The female is larger than the male.

The beautiful little Merlin (Falco Æsalon) was also seen, though not common, twenty-five or thirty years ago.  It was a very plucky little bird, and I have seen one strike down a partridge larger in bulk than itself.  This is gone, never to return.

The Sparrow-Hawk (Accipiter fringillarius) survives, although in diminished numbers; and this indeed is the only one of the hawks against which “my voice should be for open war.”  It is very destructive and very daring in the pursuit of its quarry.  A connection of my own was sitting in a room facing the garden at the Victoria Hotel, Woodhall, when a sparrow-hawk dashed after its prey, broke the glass of the window, and fell stunned on the floor of the room.  The female in this kind also is larger p. 44than the mate.  This bird will kill young ducks and chickens, and partridges, and even pheasants.

The Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) also still survives, and we do not grudge it a prolonged lease of life.  It feeds chiefly upon mice and small birds, cockchafers, and other insects; is a graceful object as it hangs lightly hovering at a considerable height in the air; with its keen vision detects its small prey half hidden in the grass or stubble, and then with lightning rapidity, drops like a stone upon it, and bears it away.  I have kept kestrels and sparrow-hawks and tamed them; and the former will become tractable and almost affectionate, but the latter is a winged Ishmaelite, and very treacherous, and if allowed a little liberty, it generally ends in his making his escape. [44a]

Owls are still, I am glad to say, plentiful.  They are amongst the farmers’ greatest feathered friends, killing enormous quantities of mice, which otherwise would damage his crops. [44b]  We have three kinds on the moor or in the woods: 1st—the barn owl, or screech owl (stryx flammea); 2nd—the wood or brown owl (synnium aluco); 3rd—the horned-owl (asio otus).  The two last are very much alike in both size and colour, but the last has two tufts of feathers rising on each aide of the head, from which it gets its name of horned-owl.  I have a note among my shooting records: “Dec. 5th, 1872, shot Bird Hag Wood, in Kirkstead, put up about a dozen owls.”  These would be the “horned” kind.  Five were shot on that occasion, but as a rule they have been carefully spared, one only occasionally being killed as a specimen for stuffing.  Within the nineties, being out with my gun, on the moor, when the p. 45ground was covered with snow, I passed by a solitary thick Scotch fir, when an owl flew out.  I wanted a specimen for a friend who was staying with me, and I shot it.  The report created quite a commotion within the tree, and some twenty owls were immediately flying about me.  Not being likely to settle in the snow, and apparently dazed by the glare of the sun reflected from the snow, I left them as quickly as I could, to recover their composure, and return to the sheltered quarters in which they had congregated.  Hunting, as they do, almost entirely by night, they have little opportunity of interfering with the game, nor is it their propensity to do so. [45]  There are three very ancient hollow oak trees in “The Arbours” Wood in Kirkstead.  These are a favourite resort of the barn owl.

The carrion crow still nests on the moor, although the eggs are taken every season.  But the old birds are very wary, and manage to keep out of shot.  The common rook, however, of late years, has got a bad name, as having taken up the marauding habits of the genuine crow.  Owing to the improved cultivation of land, there is not now the supply of grubs on which the rook used to feed, and they have taken to hunting for the eggs of partridge and pheasant, and may be seen “quartering” the ground as methodically as a pointer or setter.  They are strongly suspected of killing the young as well as rifling the nests of eggs, and the Scotch keepers complain of their depredations on the moors, among the young grouse.

A writer in the “Yorkshire Poet” (of August 22, 1898) says that black game are decreasing in the Border counties, as the rooks destroy the eggs.

This completes the list of the larger birds frequenting the neighbourhood.  As I write this chapter, a letter from an old friend says that he well remembers the number of night-jars p. 46which were to be heard “churring” about Woodhall on a summer’s evening.  This bird (caprimulgus Europœus), locally called fern-owl, comes to us about May.  I have a note: “May 23rd, 1873, the first night-jar heard.”  During the daytime, the visitor, walking quietly through the woodland paths near the Victoria Hotel, may, if he has a keen eye, see the night-jar lying flat upon the branch of an oak, hardly indeed perceptible, owing to its colour being so near that of the brown bark.  Then, towards evening, it may be seen taking its short and wonderfully rapid flights, and you may hear its bills snap together as it catches the moths and cockchafers on which it feeds.  It breeds on the moor, the nest generally being laid on the ground among the bracken; whence its name of fern-owl.  The old idea of its sucking the goat or cow, from the former of which it gets its classical name caprimulgus (as well as the English equivalent), is, of course, long since exploded. [46a]  The churring note is seldom heard except when it is at rest on a branch of a tree.

The brilliant little Kingfisher (Alcedo ispida), the most gay in colour of all our birds, may still sometimes be seen, darting about the only rivulet which we can boast of at Woodhall, and which rejoices in the unattractive name of “The Sewer,” [46b] although its water, welling up at its source near Well Syke Wood, is beautifully clear and pure.  The occurrence, however, of the bird here is rare.  An old inhabitant of Kirkby assures me that it is not uncommon on the river Bain, in that parish; and of late years, partly p. 47through the writer’s influence, it may be seen on the rivers Bain or Waring, in the heart of Horncastle, unmolested, and even fed, by the people.

The Grey Fly Catcher (Muscicapa Grisola) is fairly common on our lawns, where it will sit quietly on a garden seat, or roller, and thence take its short jerky flight after the flies.  I have known it to nest year after year, at the Vicarage, in a hole in the wall, where an iron ventilator was broken.

The Wryneck (Yunx Torquilla) is a somewhat uncommon bird at Woodhall, though a pretty one.  For several years it also frequented the Vicarage garden, sometimes four or five of them, during the summer months.  One year there were so many that I shot one and had it stuffed, and I found that at the same time a noble Marquis was having two stuffed, as being rather rare.  It is called in some parts of the country the “weet” bird, from its peculiar note; other authorities say that the note is represented by the words, “Peel, peel,” or “Peep-peep.”  I should myself say “Snipe, snipe” was nearer to the sound, and a writer compares it to the sound of Punch, in the old show of “Punch and Judy,” which I think comes nearer to my own interpretation.  The body of this bird is in colour a mixture of grey and brown, but its tail and wings are most beautifully marked with dark zig-zag bars, which make it very handsome.  In size it is between the blackbird and the lark.  Like the woodpecker, it has a very long tongue, which is covered with a glutinous matter, and which it inserts into the grass roots or tree bark, in search of its food. [47]

I give here a list of birds which I have stuffed, all of which were killed in this neighbourhood:—Night-jar (Caprimulgus Europœus), wry p. 48neck (Yunx Torquilla), buff blackbird (Turdus merula), razorbill (Alca Torda), little auk (Mergulus Alia), ruff (Machetes Pugnax), green sand piper (Totanus Octaopus), snipe (Scolopax gallinago), water rail (Rallus Aquaticus), golden plover (Charadrius Pluvialis), woodcock (Scolopax Rusticola), large spotted wood pecker (Dendrocopus Major), hawfinch (Coccothraustes Vulgaris), cuckoo (Cuculus Canorus), jay (Garrulus Glandarius), French partridge (Cannabis Rufa), turtledove (Turtur Auritus), horned owl (Asio Otus), hen harrier (Circus Cyaneus), kestrel (Falco Tinnunculus), peregrine falcon (Falco Peregrinus), piebald pheasant (phasianus colchicus), buff pheasant, cormorant (phylacrocorax carbo), jay (corvus glandarius), heron (ardea cinerea), horned owl (asio otus).

In times gone by, never to return, the numbers and variety of wild fowls frequenting the Witham, with its “sykes and meres,” was something extraordinary.  Charles Kingsley doubtless wrote, if not of his own knowledge, yet, at furthest, at second hand, when he gave the following description: “Grand it was, while dark green alders and pale green reeds stretched for miles . . . where the coot clanked, and the bittern boomed, and the sedgebird, not content with its own sweet song, mocked the notes of all the birds around . . . far off upon the silver mere would rise a puff of smoke from a punt, invisible from its flatness.  Then down the wind came the boom of the great stanchion-gun; and after that another sound, louder as it neared; a cry as of all the bells of Cambridge, and all the hounds of Cottesmore; and overhead rushed and whirled the skeins of terrified wildfowl, screaming, piping, clacking, croaking, filling the air with the hoarse rattle of their wings; while, clear above all, sounded the wild whistle of the curlew, and the trumpet note of the wild swan.”  “Prose Idylls,” The Fens.

The living clouds on clouds arose,
Infinite wing!  Till all the plume-dart air
And rude resounding shore was one wild cry.

Of the swans, we may observe that not only did this bird, in its wild state, frequent the Witham and the Fen waters, but the swannery was a valuable possession.  The Abbots of Bardney and Kirkstead owned swanneries on the Witham.  (“Archæol.” vol. xvi., p. 153).  The swans of various owners were distinguished by marks on the upper mandible, and there were no less than 97 different swan marks on the Witham.  A rhyming list of the birds of the Witham is given in Drayton’s Polyolbion (song p. 4925), too long to quote here; suffice it to say that one parish alone, near Boston, some 60 years ago, sent 30,000 wild fowl in a year to London—(Thompson’s History, Boston).  The bird’s captured by net were dunlins, knots, ruffs, reeves, red-shanks, lapwings, golden plovers, curlews, godwits, etc.  One fowler stated that he had so taken 24 dozen lapwings in one day, and four dozen and nine at one time.—Stevenson’s “Birds of Norfolk,” vol. i., p. 57.  Other birds shot by the fowlers were mallard, teal, widgeon, whimbrells, grebes of several kinds, and the “yelping” avocet.  A relative of the present writer owned a decoy, where some 20,000 wild ducks were taken, within his own recollection, in one season. [49]

We now come to the last bird which I shall name in this somewhat lengthy list; a goddess among birds, as someone has almost literally called her, “œmula divini suavissima carminis ales”; and the old Scotch poet, William Drummond, of Hawthornden, says:—

Sweet artless songster! thou my mind dost raise
To airs of spheres—yes, and to angels’ lays.

while quaint old Isaac Walton says: “She breathes such sweet music from her little instrumental throat, that it might make mankind to think that miracles are not yet ceased.”  The nightingale was first heard in my own garden, at the vicarage, Woodhall Spa, in the spring of 1876.  Having heard it at Cambridge, in the South of England, and also in Italy, I immediately recognised the note, and at first was delighted at the arrival of this new visitor to Woodhall Spa, who did not come needing the water, and complaining of aches and pains, but p. 50to delight everyone with its rich flood of song.  And having thus found its way here, it has further found the attractions of Woodhall so great that, although favouring no other place in the neighbourhood, it has continued its annual visits ever since, and has brought its kindred in increasing numbers.  But, although charmed at first with its melody, the novelty wore off; and when, night after night, there were three or four of these birds waking the echoes beneath my bedroom window, trying in jealous rivalry each to outdo the other in compassing the whole gamut, “in the rich mazes of sound,” my admiration considerably abated, and I became rather disposed to vote the performance a veritable surfeit of song, to the utter banishment of much-needed slumber.  Before, however, I had arrived at this prosaic way of viewing the “Queen of Song,” I composed in its honour the following lines, with which I shall close this chapter on the Birds of Woodhall:—

2 a.m., April 27.

   How from that tiny throat,
      Songster of night!
   Flows such a wealth of note,
      Full of delight;
   Trembling with resonance,
      Rapid and racy,
   Sinking in soft cadence,
      Gushing with ecstasy,
   Dying away,
      All in their turns;
   Plaintive and gay,
Thrilling with tones aglow,
Melting in murmurs low,
   Till one’s heart burns?

   Once in the wilderness,
      By desert well,
   Hagar in loneliness,
      With Ishmael,
   Sighed to the silent air,
      Tears on her glistening;
   Yet to her, even there,
      Angels were listening,
   Noting her prayer.

   Even so singest thou,
      Not to thyself,
   Mayn’t there be list’ning now
      Some fairy elf,
   Silently sitting near
      Thy dark retreat,
   Drinking with grateful ear
      Thy music sweet,
   Ringing so clear?

   No! not alone art thou;
   One there’s above, e’en now,
   “Whose mercy’s over all,”
   “Who sees the sparrow fall;”
   “To Him the night is day,”
   He hears thy matin lay,
   High o’er us all.

   p. 51Through the hushed, slumb’ring air,
      Thy accents raise,
   For all his loving care
      Incense of praise;
   Thrilling with happiness,
      Full with content,
   Still asking His goodness,
      Prayer with praise blent.

   Little thou mayest be,
      Yet art His care;
   He, too, has given thee
      Gifts rich and rare.
Still, then, thy voice upraise,
Still chant thy Maker’s praise
While we are rapt in sleep,
Still thou thy vigil keep;
Still let some earthly cry
Go to our God on high;
Humbly, yet fervently, piercingly call,
Call for His watchfulness over us all.


It is the inevitable, if regretful, duty of the recorder of the past to have to inscribe “Obiit” over the mention of many an individual who comes under his notice, and this applies to the four-footed animals, as well as to the birds and the wild flowers, of Woodhall.  Of some of the most interesting, it must be said that they are gone, and their place knoweth them no more.

The first I may mention is the Badger.  This animal used to be fairly common in these parts; whether it is now quite extinct is difficult to say, because its nocturnal habits, and very retiring disposition, prevent it coming much under the observation of man.  It is supposed still to harbour in the rocks at Holbeck, some nine miles from Woodhall.  A specimen was captured at Woodhall about the year 1885, frequenting some rabbit holes in a bank, at that time belonging to myself, and within 100 yards of the present blacksmith’s shop on the Stixwould-road.  Another was captured a few years before in the adjoining parish of Martin, which I have stuffed.  At an earlier date one was taken by a man named Thomas Norris, at Well Syke Wood, some two miles from Woodhall Spa.

About the year 1889 one was seen for some months in the Northern Dar Wood, in Woodhall.  The keeper, doubtless with murderous intent, tried to find its burrow, but did not succeed.  It was not killed so far as is known, but disappeared.  Another was killed in June, 1898, at Mavis Enderby.  In 1903, two badgers were killed at Asgarby, and one at Asterby in 1904.  In 1899 our local pack of hounds, the South Wold, ran a badger, instead of a fox, over several fields, until he took to ground, and was afterwards killed by one of the party, as he kept his head out of the hole.  It should hardly be a moot p. 53point whether the extermination of the badger is an advantage or not, although a good deal has been written on both sides of the subject.  Its skin makes the “sporran” of the kilted Highlander, and its hair makes our shaving brushes.  Though it may be found occasionally in an enlarged rabbit burrow, it is not there to prey on the rabbit; for (as Major Fisher assures us in his interesting work, “Out-door Life in England,” 1896) its diet is mainly vegetarian, and what animal food it indulges in is mice, frogs, an occasional hedgehog, with beetles, snails, and worms; and especially it is very partial to the grubs of the wasp.  It is very cleanly in its habits; sometimes occupying the same “earth” with the fox, to the great advantage of the latter, as it clears away the putrid matter brought in by Reynard, and so prevents his contracting the mange, to which he is very liable, from his own untidy propensities. [53a]  Being thus not only comparatively harmless, but also serviceable to the sportsman, it is much to be regretted that continued war should be waged against these creatures. [53b]  Unfortunately, old prejudices are but slowly overcome.  By a statute enacted in the 8th year of Queen Elizabeth, chap. 15, and confirmed by subsequent statutes, provision was made for the destruction of what were then deemed “noysome foule and vermine,” and the price of 1s. was set on the head of every “fox and grey,” i.e., badger.  This act continued in force down to 1863.  But the old ideas concerning the badger have been long exploded among those who know anything of its habits.  The badger, further, is the only representative of the bear family in this country.  A scion of that race, whose bones are found in our fossiliferous caverns, co-eval with the mammoth and prehistoric man, he, if any of our existing animals, may boast of “blue blood in his veins.”  The nobleman, whose ancestry came over with the conqueror, is a parvenu in comparison with him.  Surely the principle of Noblesse oblige p. 54alone should ensure for him a shelter in our woods and wastes. [54a]

The next to be mentioned of our ferœ næturæ, also the object of constant persecution, and growing, consequently, rarer every year, is the Otter.  The parish of Thimbleby adjoins Woodhall Spa on the north, indeed, a large slice of it is now included in the recently created civil parish of Woodhall Spa.  At the further end of Thimbleby an otter was killed in the year 1898, at a water mill on the river Bain, the miller erroneously supposing that it would kill his ducks.  Shortly before, another specimen had been shot by a keeper on the same river, at Goulceby, its mate fortunately escaping.  Soon after, a young specimen was seen several times disporting itself in the Horncastle Canal.  It there escaped the vigilance of many would-be assassins, and gradually worked its way towards our neighbouring river, the Witham; but there it fell a victim to a gunner, who descried it in a drain near Tattershall Bridge, in Billinghay Fen.  Another specimen was afterwards shot among the dykes of Walcot Dales, near the Witham, and still another in the neighbouring parish of Martin, a few years ago.  Here again this persistent slaughter is much to be regretted.  The otter is not the enemy to the fisherman which it is too commonly supposed to be.  In the “Badminton Library,” the Honourable Geoffrey Hill says: “People are beginning to find that the otters kill and keep down the coarser fish, especially the eels, which live on the spawn and fry of the better sorts.”  Mr. E. Daubney, writing from the banks of the Dart, says: “They eat frogs, rats, birds, fish, et id genus omne, but of nothing are they more fond than the eel; for this they will give up the finest and most fresh-run salmon.” [54b]  In our own neighbourhood, in 1901, two young otters were shot on a farm at Sturton; they were at a pond which abounded in eels, and had doubtless by the eels been attracted from the river Bain, a mile distant, where they could only get trout.  p. 55A naturalist, who watched some otters at their home, night and day, for more than two months, says that he only saw them take three trout; the first fish taken was an eel, the second a chub, or roach.  (“Country Life,” illustrated, Vol. VI., No. 134, July, 1899.)  Another authority [55a] states that the stomach of one specimen examined “was full of larvæ and earthworms”; while a fourth writer [55b] says, “Otters will eat celery, potatoes, young shoots from the hedges; and especially have they a liking for the two first.”  The writer has seen a dead salmon lying on a Highland river bank with the shoulder eaten away by the otter, their peculiar habit being to take only this part, and never to return to the body again. [55c]  But even their attacks on the salmon have indirectly a useful effect, for, as one of the authorities already quoted (Mr. E. Daubney) observes: “If a salmon pool is visited by otters, the salmon are hustled, and so made to bestir themselves (often when sickly, and reluctant to move), and so make the effort to get down to the sea, to return again enormously increased in size and condition, and in this way the otter does the sportsman a service in sending the salmon down to recruit in the sea; just as, in turn, the sea-lice which fix upon the salmon when recruited in the salt water, so harass the fish, as to drive it once more up the river again into the fresh water, when it may afford sport to the angler.” [55d]  It is not generally known, and it has even escaped the notice of our greatest naturalists, that the otter utters a shrill whistle when calling to its mate or young, which might be easily mistaken for the note of the kingfisher or sand-piper.  This has been noticed by Mr. F. B. Whitlock, in the “Naturalist” for 1895, p. 381.  The great stronghold of the otter is the broads of Norfolk, where, in the sluggish, reedy water, he can get p. 56plenty of eels, snails, and so forth.  In our own neighbourhood, if the war and extirpation goes on, he will soon be a memory only.

The next wild animal to be named as fairly common at Woodhall is the Fox.  The locality, indeed, has been for many years a stronghold [56] of Reynard, as was to be expected, in a district where the woods are so extensive, although by no means so extensive as they were within the writer’s recollection.  On one occasion, some 14 or 15 years ago, we had the Burton hounds, and the South Wold, over the same ground, in the same morning, within hearing, if not within sight, of each other.  The Ostler Ground, especially from the thick and warm cover afforded by the heather, may be said to be a nursery for foxes for the supply of the neighbourhood.  Not long ago there were six earths; and there are still three, which are carefully preserved; and the bark of the dog-fox or the answering scream of the vixen may be heard almost any night, in different directions, while out foraging.  So thick is the cover, in parts, that the hounds frequently fail to penetrate it; and, after the pack have gone away without a find, I have almost trodden upon a fox, on one occasion upon a brace of them, still lying snugly among the “ling” in security.  The fox does much less harm than is commonly supposed.  It will not disturb other game if it can get rabbits, and it will not take rabbits if it can get rats.  A very old sporting farmer has repeatedly assured me that although he had a rabbit warren near his farmstead, the rabbits were left undisturbed, and even his chickens were safe, so long as there were rats to be captured in his corn-stacks, or in the banks about his farm-buildings. [57] p. 57The first fox which the writer ever saw, was brought by a Woodhall man, named Hare, to his father.  It had been caught in a trap by the leg, and had attempted to bite its own foot off, in order to effect its escape.  It was kept until the injured limb had recovered, and was then sent to his friend, the M.F.H.  The writer’s own recollections of fox-hunting go back to the days of the famous Jack Musters, the Squire of Colwick and Annesley, who married Mary Chaworth, the object of Lord Byron’s passionate admiration.  Sometime in the forties he hunted our own South Wold country.  He was indeed “a character.”  Though said by the Prince Regent to be “the most perfect gentleman he had ever met,” yet, in the hunting field, his language and his actions were most violent.  The writer has still clearly impressed on his memory an occasion at Woodhall, when, as a boy of 12 years old, mounted on a small pony, and with the hounds running hard, he endeavoured to open a gate for the impatient M.F.H., and, on his not being able to accomplish this quickly enough, he was assailed with such a flood of invective, and torrent of oaths, that he was forced to withdraw from the attempt in confusion and bewilderment.  But, if the sportsman who crossed his path was not spared by “Jack,” as he was familiarly called, neither was any unfortunate hound which offended him.  On one occasion, a young hound, at High-hall Wood, near Woodhall, was guilty of chasing a hare.  The whole “field” was in consequence pulled up; one of the whips was ordered to bring the delinquent forward.  The thong of his hunting crop was twisted round the hound’s neck, and while he on foot held the poor brute in this way, the other whip dismounted and belaboured it with his whip until he was himself too exhausted to flog any more.  The whole field were kept looking on at this display of wholesome (?) discipline, and when it was over the hound was left lying on the ground, almost strangled and a mass of contused weals, to recover its consciousness and limp after the departing pack, as best it could.  The painful impression made upon the young mind of one devoted to animals, and tender of their feelings, remains still as an unpleasant memory, from which it recoils.

p. 58At one of our meets, a fox was found in Bracken Wood, which, after giving us a good run round the neighbourhood, eventually took refuge in a cottage near High-hall Wood.  Entering by the open door, it mounted the ladder which formed the staircase to the one bedroom above; there it crept under the bed.  The hounds hunted all round the premises, but the door having been shut by the occupier, an aged, retired keeper, and there being a strong wind which blew the scent from the door, his retreat was not discovered.  He remained in this place of concealment until the hounds had gone to a safe distance, and then, descending by the ladder, bolted out of the door and made off, verifying the adage of Erasmus (older than “Hudibras”),

That same that runnith a awaie
Againe maie fighte ane other daie.

The well-known cunning of the fox is shewn in the following:—A favourite “find” for many yeans has been Thornton Wood, some three miles from Woodhall Spa; and a frequent line for the fox to take was (and is) from that covert to Holme Wood, near Scrivelsby.  To accomplish this the Horncastle Canal and the small river Bain have to be crossed.  The writer, as a boy, has swum the canal on his pony, at the tail of the pack; but usually riders have to make a detour by a bridge, between the first and second locks on the canal.  During the intervals of ten minutes or a quarter of an hour required for this, the hounds are left to themselves.  It happened on two or three occasions that in this interval the scent suddenly failed, and the fox was lost; casts were made up and down the river, but without success.  On one occasion, a labourer, working in the grass field between the canal and the Bain, saw the fox cross the canal by the lock doors, over which there was a narrow plank-bridge for foot-passengers.  It then made across the field for the Bain.  He saw it pass out of sight down the banks of the river, close by a willow tree, overhanging the water; but it did not emerge on the other side.  With the lack of quick wit, characteristic of the clod-hopper, it did not occur to him to mention this at the time.  He told it, however, afterwards to his master, a hunting man; and, on a subsequent occasion, when the same incident occurred again, one of the whips dismounted and went into the water, and, poking about the roots of the willows, dislodged Reynard, concealed under the hollow bank, and immersed under water, except his nose and mouth, by which he was hanging p. 59suspended from a fang of the tree roots.  Surely Reynard’s clever ruse deserved a better fate than the death which speedily followed.

The following incident occurred under my own observation.  I was out shooting in Woodhall.  In a certain field I had put up a hare, which went away, without a shot.  Passing, in due course, to the next field, I observed an object sitting, so far as I could make out, in a crouching position, in the middle of the field, and it looked in the distance like a man.  I proceeded towards it, and soon perceived that it was a fox, sitting up on his hindquarters.  At this moment a hare, presumably that which I had put up just before, entered the field and cantered leisurely in the direction of the fox.  As sportsmen are aware, the hare, though able to see behind it, or on either side, does not, from the peculiar position of the eyes, see so well straight in front.  In this case, the hare never perceived the fox until it was within a few feet of it; whereupon it stopped short, and the two sat up facing each other, evidently mutually fascinated, as the bird is said to be by the snake.  They thus remained motionless, or powerless to move, for some minutes, until my nearer approach attracted their attention and broke the spell, whereupon they both bounded off in different directions.  This, I am told by an authority, was a case of neurasthenia, or nerve-paralysis.  A not quite similar occurrence was recorded some little time ago.  A farmer saw a pheasant go to roost in a tree, standing alone in the field.  Presently he saw a fox approach, go to the tree, and look up at the pheasant.  After pausing for a moment, regarding the bird, he proceeded to run rapidly round the tree in a narrow circle.  This he did for some time, continuing his circuit without intermission; when, to the farmer’s astonishment, the pheasant fell from its roost, and before it reached the ground was seized by the fox, who went off with his prey to a neighbouring plantation.  This would seem to have been a case of hypnotism, rather than neurasthenia.  The bird was mesmerised, or made giddy, by the fox’s circular motion, and literally fell into the operator’s arms.—(“Spectator,” January, 1898).  The writer, when travelling in Germany, once met a German gentleman, who had visited country houses in England, and had conceived a great admiration for the English sport of fox-hunting.  “Ah,” he said, “we have nothing like it in Germany.  It is a grand institution.  It makes you good horsemen, good soldiers, good judges of country and distance.”  To those who p. 60would object to fox-hunting on the score of its cruelty, I would quote words used at a church congress, by Colonel Hornby, master of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds.  Speaking on “The Ethics of Amusements,” he said: “The exercise of hunting is productive of the most beneficial effects on both mind and body.  There could be no hunting without suffering to the animal hunted, but this was greatly exaggerated.  These animals were born to be hunted by other wild animals; we had destroyed the latter, and our hunting was more merciful.  The pain inflicted was no equivalent to the pleasure afforded to hounds and horses, leaving men out of the question.  The true lover of sport was a lover of mercy as well.  Every sportsman, in the true sense of the word, did all in his power to lessen the suffering.”—Quoted, “Guardian,” Oct. 17, 1894, p. 1,620.

The days are gone by when gentlemen “of the cloth” were common in the hunting field.  Yet I have known some of the hardest working clergymen, and the most sincere, earnest Christians, who saw no excessive cruelty in the chase.  We have no “Jack Russels” among us now; the last of the type who lived in our neighbourhood found a dead fox in his pulpit, when he ascended it to preach his sermon one Sunday morning; and though he did not deliver a funeral oration over it, it was said that he buried it with as much loving reverence and genuine grief, as if it had been a Christian parishioner.

A meet of the foxhounds at that favourite tryst, the “Tower on the Moor,” near to Woodhall Spa, presents a pretty and lively scene.  Besides the red-coated sportsman, there are riders, with horses of every degree, from the barebacked, or rudely saddled “screw,” to the 100 guinea or 200 guinea hunter; and from the “weedy” hack to the long, elastic-legged animal of racing blood.  There are numerous vehicles, two-wheeled and four-wheeled, with their varied occupants, from the butcher’s light cart to the phaeton or the drag.  There are numbers on foot, of both sexes; some of the men, staid of mein and beyond middle life, have already walked their miles; townsmen, for once, breaking away from their trade, or their business, and bent once more on breathing the fresh air on the heather, and listening again to the “echoing horn,” as it vibrates through the woods.  There are ladies, on horseback, eager for the burst across country “in the first flight”; there are ladies on cycles, not yet arrived at the p. 61degree of perfection to enable the fair riders to take a “bee-line,” but yet, from the speed attainable, able to make rapid detours, and if they study the wind, and are familiar with the “lay” of the country, likely to see almost as much of the sport as the best-mounted.  All are bent on the healthy enjoyment of this thoroughly English pastime.  Their thoughts might find echo in the old hunting song,

Tally-ho!  Tally-ho!
Let the foreigner know
We are Englishmen: so,
Tally-ho!  Tally-ho!

And who shall say that the pleasure is confined to them?  Someone has said: “The horses enjoy it, the hounds enjoy it, and no one can say from experience that the fox does not enjoy it as well.”  Then comes the M.F.H., with his beauties, all in “the pink” of condition.  A moment’s delay for pleasant greetings between all and sundry, and the hounds are quickly thrown in for business; their tails, and little more, wave above the long ling and the tall bracken.  The whips gallop to their points of observation.  Presently a whimper or two is heard; then the deeper tone of an old hound takes it up; the rest rally about him, and soon the whole pack join in full chorus.  A halloo is heard from a ride, as the fox crosses it; a distant hat is held up to show the line he is taking in the cover, and then a more distant shout of “gone away,” and the whole field are off, helter skelter, as though riding for their lives, sauve qui peut.  Such are “the pleasures of the chase,” for which we are indebted to the Little Red Rover: “The sport of kings, the image of war, without its guilt.”  (Somerville, “The Chase,” Book I.)

The neighbourhood of Woodhall combines lands of a wild unreclaimed nature, such as the Ostler Ground and other moorlands, in the parishes of Thornton, Martin, Roughton, Kirkby and Tattershall, and closely contiguous, and even mixed up with these, lands which are in an advanced state of cultivation.  I have already mentioned a tract of waste, boggy ground, lying between the Tower on the Moor and Bracken Wood, formerly the haunt of wild fowl, and still called “The Bogs Neuk.”  The origin of this ground was probably the following:—The old antiquary, Leland, writing of “The Tower,” [61] says, “one of the Cromwelles builded a pretty turret, caullid the Tower on the Moore, and p. 62thereby he made a faire greate pond or lake, bricked about.  The lake is commonly called the Synkker.”  This “lake,” and all trace of it, have entirely disappeared; but it is probable that the decay of its “bricked” walls, or of whatever the environment may really have been, led to the escape of the water, and the creation of the tract of swamp, which remained until recent years.  Similarly the Ostler Ground was, within the writer’s recollection, a much wilder tract, and its woods more extensive than at present.  Some 300 acres of wood were destroyed by fire, through accident, about the year 1847.  This happened at night, and, seen from a distance, it looked like a vast American prairie conflagration, the heavens being tinged with a lurid light far and wide.  At that time the plantations opposite the Tower were of Scotch fir, so dense that the rays of the sun could scarcely penetrate.  The roads, as I have previously stated, were little more than cart tracts, often shifting; and the whole tract was almost as little frequented, or disturbed, as if it had been in the heart of the Black Forest of Germany.  In the centre of this wild were two or three fields belonging to another property, [62a] where roamed a herd of small, shaggy cattle, which, shut out as they were from the rest of the world, became almost wild; and when, on occasions, the foxhounds penetrated to their haunts, they frantically broke through all bounds, and for some days afterwards would be found scattered about the open country around.  This tract of wood and moor has been for many years the prettiest bit of wild shooting anywhere in this neighbourhood for many miles round.  There is not, at the present time, anything like the amount of game upon it which was to be found only a few years ago; drainage and several very dry seasons, as also two or three accidental fires, having killed much of the ling, and reduced very considerably the amount of cover.  Still, to the genuine sportsman who thinks more of a varied bag than of the slaughter of numbers, it affords great attractions, and the writer has enjoyed many a happy day of healthy relaxation, with dog and gun, upon it. [62b]  The p. 63variety of birds now, or formerly, to be seen, have been described already.  The ground game upon it now, apart from the fox, are the hares and rabbits; of these I shall speak more at length presently.  If the Moor ground has afforded fair sport of a wild and varied character, the shooting in the adjoining domain of Kirkstead, in hares and partridges, has been also much superior to the rest of the neighbourhood, with the one exception of Tattershall, which has been nearly as good.  On one occasion, being one of a party of five, the writer was stationed at the north-east corner of “The Arbours Wood,” in Kirkstead, to shoot the hares which passed that point, while the rest of the sportsmen walked the wood with the beaters.  In the space of about one hour and a quarter, without moving from his position, he shot 56 hares.  At one moment he had 16 hares lying dead before him; and he could have shot many more, but that, from the rapid firing, his gun barrels became, at times, so hot that he was afraid to load, and the hares were allowed to pass him, and escape unmolested. [63]

We occasionally find on the Ostler Ground an unusual hybrid between hare and rabbit, a notice of which may be of some interest to the naturalist.  As its occurrence has led to a good deal of correspondence, I will give here a summary of the observations made upon it as they were stated by me at a meeting of the Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union.  Among other persons who made enquiry about it was Mr. Walter Heape, of Cambridge, who has made p. 64the subject of hybrids a special study.  He asked my reasons for supposing the animal to be such a cross.  My reply was as follows:—

(1)  The animal is the size of a hare.

(2)  Its fur is the rabbit grey.

(3)  The head is the shorter, and the ears the more pricked and shorter, of the rabbit.

(4)  One which I shot at, and missed in the ling, bolted straight for a hole, as though accustomed to it, and I never knew a hare to go to ground in that ready way.

(5)  A tradition has long attached to the Moor that the hare and rabbit do occasionally inter-breed.

Mr. Heape replied:—“I am aware that many naturalists deny that hares and rabbits will breed together.  I am not, however, myself of that opinion, but I never had satisfactory proof of such a cross occurring.”  Further enquiry led to the following facts:—In the year 1773 the Abbe Domenico Gagliari got two litters from a female hare by a male rabbit.  Richard Thursfield also got hybrid’s of these two species.  M. Roux, in 1847, established a breed of “Leporides” in Angonleme, where he bred largely hybrids of hares and rabbits, and these hybrids were fertile with both parent species and among themselves.  Baron de Gleichen states that at Hoching, Canton de la Prusse, Polonaise, hybrids of hare (female), and rabbits (male) are generally known.  He says, however, that M. Brocca, the French savant, states that there are anatomical differences between hare and rabbit which make it, antecedently, improbable that they should inter-breed.  I have myself shot three of these hybrids on the Ostler Ground, and have one of them stuffed.  In the year 1897 Sir Henry Hawley shot a similar specimen in Haltham Wood, some five miles from Woodhall; more recently (Oct. 4th, 1898), the Rev. C. E. Chapman, then rector of Scrivelsby, shot another in New York Fen; one was occasionally seen on the Ostler Ground in 1898, and one was mentioned in “Land and Water,” March 5, 1892, as having been shot on the Moors, at Parkend, in Northumberland.  I may add that a cross between a rabbit and guinea pig is in the possession of a person at Horncastle; and I have lately heard of a cross between black game and the capercailzie in Scotland.  But the following somewhat analogous cases have created special interest.  Professor Ewart, of Edinburgh, has bred a cross between a male Berchell’s zebra and a mare pony, of the Isle of Rum breed, half wild, lent for the p. 65experiment by Lord Arthur Cecil.  The pony was jet black; the foal resulting, except over the hind quarters, had as many stripes as the zebra sire, the stripes being fawn colour, with background nearly black.  In form it closely resembled a well-bred foal.  As another interesting case of a similar kind, Lord Morton has bred a cross between a male quagga and a nearly pure-bred Arab mare; and Lord Tankerville has, more than once, bred a cross between the famous wild Chillingham bull (Bos Urus Primigenius) and a shorthorn cow.

An interesting variety of the hare is also found in Woodhall and the neighbourhood.  This is the albino or white hare.  Some 30 or more years ago one was frequently seen in the parishes of Langton and Woodhall, and eventually was shot in Thimbleby.  They were then, so far as the writer knows, in abeyance for some years.  But within the last decade heredity has asserted itself, and they have reappeared in increased numbers, and would doubtless become an established variety if allowed to multiply.  In September, 1894, one of the Woodhall tenants killed, in the harvest field, a three-quarter-grown white leveret.  In 1896 the writer presented to the Natural History Museum, at Lincoln, a fine albino specimen, also shot in Woodhall, with two small white leverets, accidentally killed in the harvest field at Langton.  Since then, attention having been drawn to their existence, a number of instances occurring in the neighbourhood have been recorded.  One was shot at Ranby as far back as Oct. 19, 1860; two were seen in Clayworth in 1896; one was shot in Baumber, Sept. 17, 1896; one shot at Thorpe Tilney, in Timberland parish, with slight tinge of brown on the ears, October, 1897; one shot in Timberland in 1895; one being seen still at large in Thorne Tilney in May, 1898; one shot in Branston, September, 1895, half grown; two shot at Bracebridge in 1893 or 1894; one shot in Wispington in 1896. [65]  On one occasion, when p. 66shooting in Kirkstead, the writer shot (right and left) a couple of hares with white face and forelegs, one of which he has stuffed.

We commonly speak of the cunning of the fox, but Mr. E. A. Pease, M.P., in his recent book, “Hunting Reminiscences” (Thacker & Co., 1895, p. 119), says: “The hare is really a much more rusé animal than the fox; can steal better away, and, once started, there is no end to her wiles and dodges.”  Of this cunning, with a view to self-preservation, I can give instances.  It has been maintained that hares never take to water, but a correspondence was carried on in the newspaper a few years ago (see “Morning Post,” Nov. 14, 1892), in which instances were given of their doing so.  I have myself seen a hare, which has eluded the greyhounds, swim across a moat, almost surrounding the house in which I am writing; and then steal away to the cover of some large ferns in a sheltered nook in the garden.  Some years ago a baronet visited a relative of mine in this neighborhood, and brought with him a pack of beagles.  We used to run on foot after these in pursuit of hares.  It is known that a hare, when getting exhausted, has not the strong scent of one just started.  As we ran over a rough ploughed field, I have seen a hare, when nearly tired out, thrust another sitting hare out of her “form,” and take her place.  The pack of beagles passed over the worn-out hare squatting in the furrow, and rushed forward with a fresh burst of music in their rich deep tones, on the strong scent of the hare just set on foot.  I passed the squatting hare, but had not the heart to betray her, feeling that she deserved to reap the reward of her cleverness.  When hunted by harriers, hares often “double” on their track, and so throw the hounds out.  I here give a very clever instance of this, which I myself once witnessed.  On one occasion, sitting on the South Downs, watching the movements of a pack of harriers in the distance, I saw “puss” gradually approaching me.  In a hilly country like the Downs, a hare, from the great length and propelling power of her hind legs, gains considerably upon the pack in running up hill, and loses ground in a descent.  The hare in question had just p. 67descended a steep Down side, the hounds gaining rapidly upon her.  It was what may be termed “a squeak” for her life, when, in the “dean” below, [67] she reached, just in time, the shelter of a clump of gorse.  Working her way through this, she stole out on the opposite side to the pack, and at a tremendous pace faced the hill, near the top of which I was sitting, by a chalk quarry.  In the ascent she distanced the hounds once more, but she was getting done, and, in the gentle breeze which floated towards me, I distinctly heard her panting as she bounded upward.  But here her instinctive cunning came into play.  The hill top was a few feet above me, some twenty yards away.  I sat motionless, and, in her anxiety about her pursuers, she never observed me.  She passed me, breathing heavily, and sprang along as far as the hill top; there, just at the brow, she paused, then cantered forward a few yards, returned, and repeated this more than once.  Then, turning suddenly towards me, she made four or five huge bounds, only just touching the ground, and dropped into the chalk quarry a few feet below me, and crept under the shelter of some dwarf thorn bushes.  Her object was manifest.  By passing more than once over her own tracks, on the hill top, she created a strong scent, which the breeze, just catching it at the brow, would carry further forward.  By her leaps towards the quarry, she had left but a slight scent, and under those thorn bushes she was doubtless waiting tremblingly the result of her ruse.  I remained motionless, watching the issue.  The pack came somewhat laboriously up the hill side, keeping close to the line she had taken; and a pretty sight it was, as a large sheet would almost have covered them, as they held on compactly together.  They passed, as the hare had done, within a few yards of the chalk quarry; pressed on to the brow of the hill, and thence followed the scent which had been blown on beyond it.  Presently there was a check, and the music ceased.  The master never thought of “harking back,” his pack having followed a strong scent beyond the brow; but pushed on to a spinney lying on the slope of the next “dean.”  I sat for a time longer by the quarry, and presently I saw puss, having recovered her breath, emerge from her hiding place and steal away, bent, doubtless, on reaching some distant secure retreat before her limbs became stiff from the unwonted exertion.

p. 68I have known a hare, when hard pressed by the harriers, enter a tunnel under a field gateway; but here instinct rather fails her; for, too often, it is only avoiding one mode of death by courting another.  If there is water in the ditch, running through the tunnel, the obstruction caused by her body makes the water rise, and she is drowned; or, if she stays any time in the tunnel, her cramped limbs get so stiff after her exertions, that she cannot get out.

There is one kind of foe which the hare finds more difficult to shake off, or elude, than a pack of harriers or beagles.  Stoats, foumarts, polecats, et id genus omne, are becoming scarcer every year; although the writer was recently told of a marten-cat—probably the Pine-marten (martes abietum)—being killed in a tree, and sold for 10s. as a rarity.  I was a witness of the following:—Walking, in the small hours of the morning, in a parish contiguous to Woodhall, on my way to a stream where I was going to fish, I saw a hare in a field adjoining the road, which was leaping about in a most extraordinary fashion, starting hither and thither, plunging into the rushes, springing into the air, and performing all sorts of strange antics, which I could only account for, had she been “as mad as a March hare,” as the saying is; but this was in the month of May.  Presently she rushed forward, occasionally leaping into the air, towards the fence which separated me from the fields.  I expected to see her appear through the hedge, in front of me; but she did not come.  Out of curiosity I got over the fence, when I saw the hare lying, a few yards further on, stretched out as though dead.  I went up to her, and found that she was, indeed, quite dead; and fast on her neck was a weasel, so gorged with her blood, that its usually slender body was quite bloated.  Following the proverbial national instinct, I killed the weasel; carried the hare to a footpath, and left it there, that some labourer passing by might take it home to regale his family.

This incident leads me to speak of the pertinacity of our weasels in hunting their prey, say a hare, as above, or a rabbit.  On one occasion, as I was riding by the side of a strip of low whinbushes and long grass, a rabbit rushed out just in front of me, its fur apparently curled with perspiration, uttering a kind of suppressed cry, and evidently in a state of the greatest terror.  I pulled up in order to discover the cause of this alarm.  The rabbit re-entered the cover a few yards further on; but presently, p. 69where it had emerged, I saw a weasel; and then I became aware that a number of these creatures were working through the grass.  I watched their movements, following them at a distance, till they had about reached the spot where the rabbit re-entered.  Then, feeling a keen sympathy for the poor persecuted rabbit, I charged into the midst of the pack, and by dint of plunging up and down among the startled company, and striking at them with my whip, I succeeded in dispersing them.  At the same moment the rabbit, which had no doubt been crouching near, half paralysed with fear, darted out, and passing by me, went away at a great pace, as if rejoicing in the rescue.  I pursued the weasels for some distance, and should say there was not less than a dozen.  I was much astonished at the enormous leaps which they made in their flight, their long, lithe bodies contracting, and then expanding with a sudden jerk which threw them forward several feet at a time.  As to the habit of weasels hunting in a pack, Waterton, the naturalist, mentions that he has seen two old stoats with five half-grown young ones hunting together. [69]  Richard Jefferies, in his book, “Round about a Great Estate,” mentions having seen a pack of five stoats hunting in company, and says that a poacher told him that he had seen as many as fourteen so engaged.  In the above case, which came under my own observation, the weasels were all apparently full grown and equally agile.


Walking along the path through the wood, from the cross roads, near St. Andrew’s Church, towards the Victoria Hotel, the writer, on one occasion, observed a lady poking with her parasol at some object lying on the ground close to her feet.  On coming to the spot he found that she was playing with an adder, which had crossed her path, apparently quite innocent of the danger she was incurring, the serpent still, evidently, having some attractive power for this, too curious daughter of Eve.  He at once, by a blow on the head with his walking stick, despatched it, and then explained to her that it was lucky for her that it had not bitten her on the ankle.  The adder or viper (Vipera Berus) is, fortunately, not common about Woodhall, but it exists there, and may be seen at times, basking on a sunny bank, or lying among the dead and dry foliage near a path, or on the open heath, where the unwary pedestrian is liable to tread upon it.  It is the more dangerous because it is apt to vary in colour, according to the locality which it frequents, and therefore is the less easily observed.  The colour is always some shade of brown, from a dull yellow to an olive tint; but it may be specially known by the zigzag, black markings along the back, and its broad head, with V-shaped mark in the centre.  Its length is from a foot to a foot-and-a-half, although specimens have been killed as long as four feet.  (“Naturalist,” 1895, p. 206.)  The female is larger than the male.  Its bite is made with great rapidity, so that there is little opportunity to escape it.  The poison is very virulent, and we are told that in some cases it has proved fatal, but that was probably in the case of a naturally inflammatory subject.  The writer has killed several at different times, on the Moor, near Woodhall.  On one occasion, on a hot day in September, when a friend was shooting with him, the dog of the friend was bitten.  It immediately howled, and seemed to be in considerable pain.  He was in time to see the adder and to kill it.  He then hurried off with the dog and caught a train to Horncastle, where a dose of p. 71Eau de Luce was administered, and the dog recovered.  Olive oil, also, well rubbed into the bitten part, is said to be an effective remedy, and is often more easily obtainable.  Another variety of snake found here is what is commonly called the “slow worm” or “blind worm” (Anguis fragilis), which is generally seen in moist meadow ground.  It is from 10 to 16 inches in length, and quite harmless.  Strictly speaking, it is a lizard, not a snake.  The only other kind is the common grass snake (coluber natrix).  This is fairly common.  The writer has seen three linked together, lying on a bank in Kirkby-lane, a favourite walk near Woodhall.  If taken unawares, without time to escape, it will hiss and make a show of fight, but it is perfectly harmless and defenceless, and usually endeavours to escape as quickly as possible, and will bury itself in the long grass, the hedge bottom, or underground with marvellous rapidity.  Like the late Poet Laureate, Lord Tennyson, the writer has more than once kept a tame snake of this species, and has even carried it about in his coat pocket, to the astonishment of urchins who have seen its head peeping out.  In a state of nature they hybernate; but when kept in a room, a favourite resort in cold weather was among the ashes under a fire-grate.  If a hot coal fell from the grate into the ashes, the snake would rush out hissing, but presently return to its warm retreat again.  Held out by the tail, they will try to climb up their own body, and snap, as if to bite at one’s hand; but their only real mode of defence is to inflate the body with air to its utmost power of expansion, and then emit it again, charged with a strong odour, repulsive enough to drive most things from it. [71a]  They are found in length from one foot and a half to three feet; and the writer has seen one killed, from which 32 unhatched eggs were taken, each egg about an inch long.  The question of snakes swallowing their young, to shelter them from danger, though asserted by several authorities, I have never been able to prove or disprove, although I have often watched them. [71b]

p. 72The Lizard (Zoctoca vivipara) is found in sandy parts of the moor, and sunny banks, but is not very common.  Many a time, as a boy, I have caught it, and found, immediately afterwards, nothing left in my hand but the tail, the rest of the creature darting away over the ground, as if none the worse; or, rather, as one might imagine, moving more freely when relieved of the incumbrance.  This “casting” of the tail would seem, really, to be an interesting, self-protective effort.  As the partridge shams lameness in its movements, to draw away an intruder from its young; or, conversely, as the Russian traveller, pursued by wolves, flings away his children, that he may escape himself; so the captured lizard, as a last resource, casts off its tail, and leaves it, wriggling, to attract the captor’s attention, while its own bodily “better half” seeks safety in concealment.

In the ponds at Woodhall the crested newt (Triton cristatus) and the smooth newt (Triton punctatus) were found by members of the Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union, on their visit in August, 1893.

Of the fishes of our neighbourhood I have been furnished with the following list by the greatest local authority, who has inherited, and personally acquired, an intimate knowledge of the subject:—Trout (Salmo fario), river Bain; grayling (Thymallus vulgaris), Bain; pike (Esox lucius), canal, ponds, Witham; chub (Leuciscus cephalus), Bain; carp (Cyprinus carpio), ponds—rarely in Witham; rudd (Cyprinus Erythrophthalmus), Witham; bream (Abramis Brama), Witham; silver bream (Abramis Blicca), ponds; roach (Leuciscus rutilus), ponds, canals, Bain; dace (Leuciscus vulgaris), ponds, canal, Bain; blick (Alburnus lucidus), Witham; minnow (Leuciscus Phoxinus), Bain; tench, (Tinca vulgaris), ponds; perch (Perca fluviatilis), canal; loach (Nemachilus barbatulus), canal and river Waring; gudgeon (Gobio fluviatilis), canal, Bain, Waring, Witham; miller’s thumb (Gobio cottus), canal; stickleback or blue-eyed sailor (Gasterosteus aculeatus), Waring and ponds; lampern, or lamprey, or nine-eyed eel (Pteromyzon fluviatilis), Bain and Waring; burbot (Gadus lota), Witham; eel (Anguilla vulgaris), Witham, Bain, and ponds.

On some of these fishes I may here make a few remarks.  The grayling, “Thymellus,” or “thyme scented” fish, is not indigenous, but has, of late years, been imported from the small river Eau, at Claythorpe, near Alford; and it is now breeding in the river Bain.  It is also p. 73called the “umber,” or “shadow” fish, because it does not lie near the surface, like the trout, but deeper down, and darts up at the fly, like a grey, dim shadow in the water.  A recent angling author, referring to this habit of the fish, speaks of casting his fly “on the surface of a deep pool on the Doon, in which the shadowy form of the grayling could be seen three feet below.  A fish would shoot up with a rush, seize the fly, and drop backward to the bottom.”  (“Angling Holidays,” by C. W. Gedney, pp. 8, 9.)  The special month for grayling fishing is August, and onward through the winter.  The rudd, found in the Witham, is not unlike the roach, but a thicker fish, with sides and back almost of a green tinge.  It has been taken up to 2½lb., but from 1 to 1½lb. is a commoner weight.  It acquires its name from its red (ruddy-coloured) eyes.  The blick is like the dace, but smaller and lighter in colour; very quick in taking the fly.  Its average size is four to five inches.  The stickleback, or “blue-eyed sailor,” is found almost everywhere—in pond and stream.  It is remarkable for building a nest, almost like that of a bird, attached to the stem of a reed or some other aquatic plant, which the male fish defends with great pugnacity “against all comers.”  It may be said to occupy a place among our fishes, analogous to that of the kingfisher among our birds, as being decked with brighter colours than any other kind; especially is this the case in time of excitement, as when defending the nest.  It then darts about, with all its spines erect, and flashing with green and gold and red.  Anyone who thrusts a stick into the water near the nest may witness this for himself.  “Sticklebacks were formerly found in such large quantities in fen waters that they were made a source of considerable profit, being boiled down for the oil they contained, and the refuse sold as manure.”  (Thompson’s “Boston,” p. 368.)  The miller’s thumb is about the size of a gudgeon, to which it is allied, but has a head broader than its body, whence it gets its other name of “bull-head.”  The burbot has something of the flavour of the eel.  The lamprey gets its name of the “nine-eyed eel” from nine orifices along the side of the throat, through which the water passes from the gills.  It is sometimes said to be poisonous, but the Germans eat them as a delicacy.  Carp, of the “Lake” variety, were put into the Witham several years ago, and they are occasionally taken 10lb. or 12lb. in weight.  The ordinary pond carp is no longer known near p. 74Woodhall, but they survive in a pond, where the writer has caught them, at Wispington.  They are a somewhat insipid fish, although at one time highly esteemed.  There was an old saying that the “carp was food fit for an abbot, the barbel for a king.”  Tench were found in great numbers in a pond which formerly existed on the site now occupied by “Oranienhof” Villa, within 150 yards of the Victoria Hotel.  They have also been taken in the river Witham, but are now thought to be extinct.  Very large tench were formerly abundant in a moat surrounding the house where the writer now lives.  They are difficult to take with worm or paste, as, by continual sucking, they get the bait off the hook without being caught.  The largest, sometimes weighing 3lb. or more, were taken in a wickerwork trap, of the shape of a dice-box, some 3ft. long, with the willow withes pointing inwards at each end.  This was baited with a peony, or any gay-coloured flower; attracted by which, the tench found their way inwards, but could not get out.  Every pond in Kirkstead has its fish; fish doubtless of ancient lineage, the descendants of those on which monks and abbotts once fattened.  In an early blackletter edition of Chaucer, there is a fragment of a poem, called “The Pilgrym’s Tale,” which begins with these lines:—

In Lyncolneshyr, fast by the fene,
Ther stant an hows, and you yt ken.

Todd’s “Gower and Chaucer,” p. iv.

which might well apply to the “hows,” or monastery, of Kirkstead.  Every such Religious House had its “fish stews,” or ponds, keeping, as Chaucer says, “Many a bream, and many a luce (pike) in stew, and many a fat partrich eke in mewe.”  The Cistercian rules of diet were very severe, allowing only one meal a day, and none but the sickly were permitted to partake of animal food.  Consequently, fish were in great demand, and the greater the variety, the more toothsome would be the monastic fare. [74]  p. 75Roach abound in the Witham, and attain a very fair size, not unfrequently up to 1¼lb.; and the artizans of Sheffield, and elsewhere, brought by special trains, in hundreds, often carry away with them very fair baskets.  Bream of both kinds are very abundant in the Witham.  I am told by one angler that he has seen the water crowded with shoals of them, and they are caught up to 6lb. in weight, and even more.  I have before me the paper-cut shape of a bream caught near Tattershall, which weighed 5¼lb., was 21 inches in length, and about 20 inches in girth.  Chub in the river Bain, between Horncastle and Roughton, and again between Tattershall and Dogdyke, are caught weighing several pounds.  They are a wary fish, but, when hooked, fight hard for a while, and then suddenly collapse.  The writer has often, in the early morning or late evening, sat by the river fishing for them with black slug, and seen two or three big fish, 1½ft. in length, slowly rising and sinking in the stream, as they examined the bait.  A chub was taken in the Bain, in 1898, with the spoon-bait, weighing 4lb. 10oz.  The Pike attains a good size in some of the ponds in the neighbourhood, and also in the river Witham.  In a large pond, about three-quarters of a mile from the Bath-house, at an abandoned brickyard known as “Jordan’s Pond,” a near relative of the writer, a few years ago, landed a pike weighing between 13lbs. and 14lbs.  It was currently reported for several years that there was a much larger pike in this pond, which those who had seen it estimated at 20lbs. weight.  A resident near has told the writer that he has seen it, holding across its jaws a captured fish fully a foot long.  This pike disappeared, it is believed in the night, in the year 1897.  Doubtless the nocturnal marauder has kept his own counsel from that day to this.  There is an old laconic expression, “Witham pike, none like,” which is only a condensed form of an older adage,

Ancholme eels, and Witham pike,
In all the world there’s none syke.

The pike of the Witham were evidently famed of yore, for Drayton, in his Polyolbion (Song XXV.), personifying the Witham, says:—

Thus to her proper song the burthen still she bare,
Yet for my dainty pikes I am beyond compare.

Walter de Gaunt (a.d. 1115) granted to the p. 76Abbot of Bardney eight fisheries on the Witham, and a fishery on the Witham at Dogdyke (Dock-dike) was granted to the Abbot of Kirkstead by Philip de Kyme (a.d. 1162), which were privileges, in those times, of considerable value.  (Reliquiœ galenœ, Introd., p. xxiii.).  Records in the Archives of Lincoln state that when Henry VII. visited Lincoln, in 1486, keeping his Easter there, and “humbly and christenly did wesh the feet of 30 poore menne with his noble hands,” he was entertained at a banquet, to which the Mayor contributed “12 grete pykes, 12 grete tenches, and 12 salmons”; [76a] and on a second visit, after his victory at Stoke field, the Corporation presented him with “2 fatte oxen, 20 fatte muttons, 12 fatte capons, and 6 grete fatte pykes.”  “Pike have been taken in the Fens,” says Mr. Skertchly, in his “Fenland” (p. 398), “from 20lbs. to 24lbs.  The largest known was taken when Whittlesea Mere was drained.  It weighed 100lbs., and was given to the late naturalist, Frank Buckland.”  There are fine pike in the lake at Sturton Hall, where permission to fish may generally be obtained; and the present would seem to be an opportunity for placing on record that when, early in this century, the lake, of some eight acres in extent, was first formed by damming the stream which ran through the Park, it was stocked with pike and other fish from the moat which then enclosed the residence of the present writer, Langton Rectory.  I find among my notes on Witham pike fishing, that in 1890 one angler [76b] took, in two hours, five fish, weighing altogether 31lbs.; the largest scaling over a stone (14lbs.), measured 35½ inches in length and 19 inches in girth.  A few days later he landed fishes of 7lbs. and 5lbs., while another angler, about the same date, secured a pike of 16lbs.  But a Horncastle fisherman, [76c] in the same week, captured one of 18lbs. in the Witham near Tattershall.  One of our greatest anglers states that his largest pike, taken in the Witham, was 16¼lbs.; that he has landed 23 pike in one day, of all sizes, and 20 the next day, making 43 fish in two days.  In the closing week of the season 1898–1899, a season below the average, a pike was taken in the Witham, near Tattershall, weighing 22lbs.

The late vicar of Tattershall, the Rev. p. 77Mortimer Latham, to whose memory the writer would here pay his tribute of regard and respect for as genuine, and withal as genial, an angler as Isaac Walton himself, “knew,” as we might say, “by heart,” the Witham, its finny occupants, and their haunts; and many a fine fish he landed, the shapes of which he kept, cut out in brown paper, in his study.  The largest pike he ever took weighed 19½lbs.  I have before me, as I write, the paper-cut shape of this fish, lent to me by his daughter; who writes: “It may interest you to know that it was conveyed home in a bolster slip, and was on view in the vicarage courtyard, to the great entertainment of the whole village.”  Its length was 38 inches, girth about 21 inches.  She further adds: “My father, at one time, caught several tench (now supposed to be extinct in the Witham), and I am proud to say that the last one known to be captured was taken by myself, for being one of the keenest fishermen that even Lincolnshire ever produced, he made us as ardent fisherfolk as himself.”  I have also the shape of a perch caught by him, weighing 2½lbs., length 15½ins., girth about 12ins.

No fish is so “coy and hard to please” as the pike.  Of them may be said, what someone has said of women,

If they will, they will,
   You may depend on’t;
And if they won’t, they won’t;
   And there’s an end on’t.

The proverbial “variabile semper” element is their characteristic feature, a living illustration of a line, pregnant with meaning, of Coleridge,

Naught may endure but mutability.

On one occasion, a well-known angler tells me, he fished three long hours in a gale of wind, which nearly carried him into the river, without stirring a fin, and then, an unaccountable change of mood coming over the “water wolves,” through the next hour and a half they “took like mad,” and he landed 42½lb. weight.  At the time two Sheffield men were fishing close by, who had been at the work for three days, and had landed only a few bream or roach, and one small jack.  Under their very noses he landed three splendid pike, while they looked on thunderstruck.  Such are the fortunes of war with fishermen.  On another occasion, when the day was dull and calm, and there was nothing, one would have thought, to stir the fish to any animation, he landed at the same spot one pike of 16¼lb., and three of 9lb. odd each.  “In fact,” he says, “pike are unaccountable.”  In December, p. 781898, a boy caught a pike of 16lb. weight in the Horncastle Canal, at Tattershall, 3½ feet in length and 9 inches in girth; and another of 11lbs. was taken in the Witham, shortly after; and other cases of 14lb., and so on, are recorded.  Pike, as is well known, are exceedingly voracious, and not very particular as to what they eat.  A writer in the “Naturalist” [78] states that a pair of Shoveller ducks nested in a disused brickpit, and brought off their young; but a pike in the pit gradually carried them off, one by one, taking one when it was large enough to fly.  The same fish destroyed nearly the whole of another brood of ducks, hatched at the same pit.  The present writer has himself witnessed a similar occurrence.  He at one time kept (as he does still) wild ducks, which nested on the banks of the moat surrounding the house.  There were large pike in the moat, and he has frequently heard a duck give a quack of alarm, has seen a curl on the water, and on counting his ducklings, found that there was one less.  And if pike are not particular as to their diet—all being grist that comes to the mill—neither are they particular as to the bait, if they are in the humour.

The writer, in a day’s fishing for trout, in a Scotch river, the Teviot, where he took perhaps a score or two in the day, would vary the sport on coming to a deep pool by taking off his flies, putting on stout gimp tackle, with a single large hook, which was run through the body of a small trout, or parr; and would often, in this way, land a good pike or two.  Sometimes when drawing in the pike too hastily, it would disgorge the bait and hook, but on his making another cast, and letting them float down the pool again, the pike would return to the charge, unwarned by experience, and be eventually captured.  On one occasion, rowing leisurely in a boat on Loch Vennachar, with his rod over the stern, and line trailing behind him, a trout, of a pound weight or so, took the fly, and hooked itself.  This was immediately seized by a good-sized pike, and after a hard fight he secured both with gut tackle.  Dining with the Marchioness who owned the above river, he was regaled on a 10lb. or 12lb. pike, which the Lady Cecil had caught that day, her boat being pushed along the river by a gillie, himself walking in the water, and she fishing with a single large hook, baited with a piece of red cloth.

We have quoted the lines celebrating the pike of the Witham, and the eels of the Ancholme p. 79(also a Lincolnshire river), but eels were, at one time, abundant also in the Witham.  Large tubs containing hundreds of them used to be taken to Horncastle on market days, or were hawked about to the country houses.  It is said that as many as 16,000 eels have been taken in one year.  If you bought eels from these hawkers, they were brought to your kitchen door alive, and, being difficult creatures to handle, your cook generally got the seller to skin them alive, and they were often put into the pan for stewing before they had ceased wriggling.  Hence the phrase to “get accustomed to a thing; as eels do to skinning.”  But an eel can only be once skinned in its life, and even the skin, stript from its writhing body, was supposed to possess a “virtue.”  If tied round a leg or an arm, it was considered a remedy, or preventive, for rheumatism; and your cook would sometimes preserve the skin for a rheumatic friend.  In these days the eels brought to market are few, and not half the size they used to be.  Eels, from 2ft. to 3ft. long, and as thick as one’s wrist, were formerly quite common.  Eels are supposed to migrate to the sea, and, in the year 1903, a large eel was found, early in the morning, about 100 yards from a large pond, in the parish of Wispington, travelling across a grass field, towards a stream, by which it might eventually reach the sea.

The only other fish which I have to remark upon is the trout.  They are not found in the Witham; but the Bain trout are handsome; both the golden, or rich yellow kind, with pink spots, and the purple or mauve-coloured variety, but the former are much finer in flavour.  For some years the swans on the Horncastle Canal made great havoc among the young trout and spawn [79a] in the neighbouring river Bain, but the last swan died in 1897.  Further, there is now an artificial breeding tank established at Horncastle, managed by Mr. Rushton, for keeping up the supply.  Some very fine fish have been taken at different times.  My notes record as follows:—In April, 1896, one of the anglers already referred to [79b] caught a trout in the Bain, close to Horncastle, weighing 4lb. 6oz., 23in. in length.  The same fisherman, in July, 1888, took another, within half a mile of the same place, weighing 4lb. 10oz., 23in. in length.  The son [79c] of a quondam veteran angler, p. 80and himself one of our keenest fishermen, tells me that he, several years ago, assisted his father to land a male trout of 7lb. weight, from the watermill pool at Horncastle.  It fought so hard that he and his brother had to rush into the water and take it in their arms, their father’s tackle not being intended for such a monster. [80a]  This, however, was surpassed by a trout taken by the late Mr. Robert Clitherow, of Horncastle, a beau ideal disciple of the gentle craft, which weighed 8lbs.

Probably the handsomest trout in the neighbourhood, though not the largest, are those of the Somersby “beck,” “The Brook,” rendered for ever classical by the sweet poem of the late Poet Laureate.  In years gone by the writer has enjoyed many a picnic on its banks, when we used to pull off our shoes and stockings, and turn up our trousers—gentlemen as well as boys—to catch the trout by the process called “tickling” them, while hiding in their holes; which the ladies afterwards cooked on a fire extemporised on the bank.  The music of the rippling stream haunts one still, as one reads those liquid lines of the poet, themselves almost a runnel:

I chatter over stony ways,
   In little sharps and trebles;
I bubble into eddying bays,
   I babble on the pebbles. [80b]

Twenty-five or thirty years ago, the dykes in the Fens, near the Witham, abounded in fish of the coarser kinds, with some goodly pike among them.  As a boy the writer has caught many a pike by the process called “sniggling,” i.e., a noose of wire, or gimp, attached to the end of a stiff rod, or stick, which is deftly slipt over a fish’s head, as he basks among the water weeds, and, when thus snared, he is jerked ashore.  When shooting in the Fens he has also killed, at one shot, five or six fish crowded together in a dyke.  But climatic alterations, and over-perfect drainage, have changed all this.  The water now runs out to sea so rapidly that the p. 81Fen drains are dry for a great part of the year, and the fish are no more.

Enough has now been said to show that the visitor to Woodhall Spa, who has a taste for “the contemplative man’s recreation,” [81] may find some employment in its vicinity.  Most of the ponds can be fished on asking the farmers’ permission.  As to the Witham, although there are angling clubs at Boston and Lincoln, the river is practically open to every one, in the season.  It may be added that close to Tattershall station there is a large “ballast pond” containing good pike, and a letter to the shooting tenant, or to Lord Fortescue’s agent, would probably obtain permission to fish.  At Revesby there is a reservoir, the source of the water supply of Boston, a large piece of water, which abounds in fish of various kinds.  Bream, both of the silver and the carp kinds, are plentiful, running up to 4lb. in weight.  Very large eels are taken there.  Roach are of a fair size.  Rudd are numerous; as also are perch, but small.  Gudgeons are plentiful, serving for bait.  Pike are abundant.  In one case three were taken by the same rod within twenty minutes, one of them weighing 13lb.  Another rod took two of 16lb. and 10lb., and it is commonly said that there is one occasionally seen “as long as a rail.”  Permission may be obtained to fish here from the agent of the Hon. Mrs. Stanhope, Revesby Abbey.  There is good accommodation at the Red Lion Hotel.

As, in the next chapter, I am to enter upon a different branch of my subject, passing roughly speaking, from the organic to inorganic—from the living to the dead—I will here give a few particulars, recently received, which may interest the entomologist.  In the month of August, 1898, I conducted the members of our county Naturalists’ Union from Woodhall Spa p. 82to Tumby, through a varied tract of country.  The following is a list of the Lepidoptera which were found by one of the members:—

Pieris brassicæ

E. hyperanthus

P. rapæ

Thecla quercus

P. napi

Polyommatus phlœas

Colias edusa

Lycœna icarus

Argynnis aglaia

Hesperia thaumas

A. paphia

Spilosoma mendica (two larvæ)

Vanessa io


V. atalanta

Psilura monacha

Apatura iris

Plusia gamma

Pararge megæra

Geometra papilionaria

Epinephele janira

Cidaria immanata

E. tithonus

Eubolia limitata


Two other members collected the following:—


Sympetrum sp.


Vespa germanica

Crabro cribrarius

V. vulgaris

C. albilabris

Bombus lapidarius

Halictus leucopus

Bombus hortorum

Apis mellifica

Formica rufa



Platychirus clypeatus

Calliphora vomitoria

Scatophaga stercoraria



Geotrupes spiniger

Otiorrhyncus picipes

G. stercorarius

Psylliodes cupro-nitens

Coccinella 7-punctata

Ragonycha fulva

C. variabilis

Meligethes æneus

Strangalia armata

Necrophorus humator

Polydrusus pterygomalis

N. ruspator


N. mortuorum

Strophosomus coryli

Aphodius rufipes


(in Fulsby Wood).

Miris lævigatus

Leptopterna ferrugata

Calocoris roseomaculatus

Œtorhinus angulatus


Orthotylus scotti

C. bipunctatus

Nabis lativentris


(In Tumby Wood.)

Those marked * are new to Lincolnshire.

*Piezodorus lituratus (abundant on gorse)

*Onychumenus decolor

Stygnus rusticus (at roots of heather)

*Psallus alnicola (on birch)

p. 83*Dictyonota strichnocera (on gorse)

Asciodema obsoletum

Miris calcaratus

Lygus viridis (on birch)

Orthotylus ericetorum (abundant on heather)



Anyphæna accentuata

Meta segmentata

Epeira gibbosa (a first record)

Epeira marmorea (doubtful, not yet recorded in Britain)

Dictyna arundinacea

Xysticus pini

Diœa dorsata (a first record)

Epeira sollers

Epeira quadrata

Linyphia triangularis

E. scalaris

Theridion varians



In a county like Lincolnshire, mainly agricultural, in which the operations of man are, for the most part, confined to the earth’s crust, in ploughing and sowing, and, as some one has said, in “tickling” the earth’s surface into fertility,—in such a county we are not led ordinarily to explore the inner bowels of the world; as is necessary in mining districts such as certain parts of Yorkshire, Durham, Cornwall and elsewhere.  Yet, with regard to our knowledge of its geological features, Woodhall may be said to compare favourably with a large majority of places.  With one exception [84a] it is the spot, par excellence, in this part of the kingdom, where the earth’s hidden resources have been tapped, and tapped to considerable purpose, in the unique commodity for which it is famed—its mineral water.  The book of Nature, so often “sealed,” has here been opened and its contents indexed.  We have in the strata of the Woodhall well sundry chapters in the earth’s past history unfolded, at least to the initiated.  The writer is not going to attempt here a systematic disquisition on a subject so abstruse (for which, indeed, he is not qualified), beyond touching upon some of its more salient, or more interesting features.  The geological records of the Woodhall well have already been given [84b] in the very concise form in which they have been preserved for us.  Whether they are to be entirely depended upon is questionable, p. 85but we may here repeat them:—Gravel and boulder clay, 10 feet; Kimeridge and Oxford clays, 350; Kellaways rock, blue clays, cornbrash, limestone, great oolite, clay and limestone, upper Estuarine clay, 140; Lincolnshire oolite, and Northampton sand, 140; lias, upper, middle, and lower, 380 feet; total, 1,120 feet.  The mineral spring is said to have issued from a stratum of spongy rock lying at a depth of 540ft. [85a]  This would probably be in or near the ferruginous Northampton sand, the lowest layer of the oolite, and lying immediately above the upper lias. [85b]

In the year 1897 a boring was commenced within 500 yards of the original well by the artesian engineers, Messrs. Isler and Co., on behalf of the Rev. J. O. Stephens, on the west side of the Stixwould road, with a view to obtaining a second supply of the Woodhall water; this was carried to a depth of 700 feet.  The engineers furnished me with a register of the strata so far pierced by the bore, but, as they are not described in the technical terms of geology, it is rather difficult to compare them with those of the old well.  At a depth of 490 feet, sandstone with iron pyrites was pierced; this would probably be the ferruginous Northampton sand of the Oolite.  It is at a less depth than the same stratum at the Spa well; but that was to be expected, as geologists state that all the geological strata “dip” eastward, and this bore being to the west, the stratum would naturally tilt upward.  This born was ultimately abandoned.  According to the records of the Spa well, derived from Dr. Snaith, of Horncastle, who knew the well from its birth, the saline spring was found at 540ft.; but Dr. Granville, who visited Woodhall, and wrote his p. 86version, in 1841, puts it at 510ft.  It is difficult to say which of these two doctors, who differ, should be accepted as the more trustworthy; and in 1841 Dr. Granville would still certainly be able to find plenty of persons familiar with the well and its details.  But in the ferruginous sand, or near it, the spring was to be expected; and there it would seem Messrs. Isler, in the new boring, found saline water, though only in small quantity.  The depth, according to their computation, was, as we have said 490ft., which is 20ft. above the Spa spring’s level, according to Granville’s version, and 60ft. above the depth given by Snaith.  The paucity of the supply of the saline water in the Isler boring may probably be accounted for thus: The trend of the current found in making the Spa well was said to be from south-east to north-west, whereas this new bore is very nearly due west from the Spa well.  If, therefore, the stream is of narrow width, this later boring is scarcely in the position to catch more than the side soakage of the current, and it would seem that the main stream can only be tapped either by another boring further north, or by a lateral shaft from the present bore running northward till it encounters the current.  There remains, of course, the further and open question as to whether the saline stream formerly passing through the Spa shaft, still continues its former north-westerly course, after having the outlet afforded by that shaft.  Would it not be more in accordance with the law of nature that the stream should take the course of least resistance by rising in the well, and not flowing further along the bed of its special original stratum?  If that be so, the only chance of another well would be to bore south-eastward of the Spa; and probably the shaft sunk by the late Mr. Blyton beside Coalpit Wood, if it had been continued, would have proved a safer venture than any other as yet attempted.  At some future time we may have the wolf disturbing the stream, above the lamb represented by the original well, to the detriment of the latter.  It may be here noticed that in the Scarle boring, as we are told, there was found a strong spring in the upper part of the lower Keuper sandstone at the depth of 790ft., and a still stronger spring at the base of that formation at 950ft.  In that case, therefore, as also at Woodhall, the water was found in sandstone, but at a much greater depth, and also in sandstone of a different character, viz., the Keuper at Scarle, the Northampton at Woodhall.  Another difference is that in the p. 87Scarle strata we pass at once from the surface drift to the lower Lias; the Kimeridge clay and all the Oolite formations, which are found at Woodhall, with a thickness of some 630ft., being entirely absent.  These differences, of course, illustrate the fact that, owing to abrasion and other causes, not only do the strata underlying the surface drift vary in different localities, but their several thicknesses vary; while, as at Harrogate, the mineral properties of the water also vary at a distance of only a few yards.  Pass beyond the limits of the particular stream, and, below ground as well as above it, you are not “in the swim.”

In the spring of 1904, Mr. R. A. Came, of the Royal Hotel, commenced sinking a shaft, in search of the Spa water, at a point some ¾ mile south of the original well; and early in 1905 water was struck at a depth of 492 feet, which proved to have the same saline properties, with the addition of Epsom salt, a good supply issuing from the spongy sandstone.  This opens up a vista of great possibilities in the future; it does away with the monopoly hitherto existing, and may have a most important effect, in the further development of the Spa.  The well is 7ft. in diameter, is bricked to a depth of 495ft., and sunk to 520ft.  The boring was carried out by Mr. Joseph Aldridge, of Measham, near Atherstone, Warwickshire, an expert mining engineer.  Many fine fossils, as ammonites, belemnites, and bi-valves, were found in the different strata that were pierced.

I now proceed to remark upon some of the geological strata, as found at Woodhall.  And first, after the mere surface gravel, we have the Boulder clay.  This has a very interesting history.  In the “Life of Nansen,” the Arctic traveller, it is stated [87a] that the geological strata of the Arctic regions show that at some remote period the climatic conditions were the reverse of those which prevail now.  Throughout those regions, at present of intense cold, there was quite a southern climate, in which walnut trees, magnolias, vines, etc., flourished; while, on the other hand, there was also a period during which our own country, and large parts of the Continent, lying in the same latitude, were buried under vast ice-fields with an Esquimaux climate.  It is there further stated [87b] that boulders are p. 88found scattered over Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, which have been transported thither on glaciers, from regions still further north.  In like manner glaciers at one time also spread over what are now Scotland and a great part of England, bringing along with them boulders from Norway, and Scandinavia generally.  The present condition of Greenland, with its vast glaciers, pouring through its valleys, down to the water’s edge, on the sea shore, illustrates the condition of our own country at that remote period. [88a]  As regards this country, these ice-streams may be classed under two distinct heads, (a) the native, inland glaciers, and (b) the north-eastern, Scandinavian glacier.  To speak first of the former.  As the climate, from causes into which we cannot here enter, [88b] gradually became coldier, glaciers were formed among the rugged hills in the present lake country of Cumberland and Westmoreland, some of which pushed their way westward, literally inch by inch, until they debouched in the Irish Sea, and filled it to overflowing, for it is only shallow.  From Borrowdale, Buttermere, Eskdale, and other head centres, they also streamed southward and eastward.  There was an immense central stream, which forced its way over the wild tract of Stainmoor (named doubtless from the thousands of boulders with which it is strewn); then, fed by lateral branches from many directions, it traversed Teesdale, turned towards the coast, passing by Scarborough, and so on to Holderness and the Humber, a branch also filling up Airedale and the Vale of York. [88c]  From Holderness it passed the Humber, into Lincolnshire.  Its most eastern limb would doubtless have debouched in the North Sea, and filled it; but here the north-eastern glacier, to which I have alluded, came into collision.  Taking its rise in Scandinavia, it had spread into a vast sheet p. 89in parts 3,000ft. thick, [89a] filled up the shallow North Sea, and the Baltic, a veritable mer de glace, and over-run northern Germany, its thickness even at Berlin being supposed to have been 1,300ft.  Impinging on our eastern coast of Scotland and of northern England, it spread over a great part of Holderness, meeting and blending with the inland native glacier on the Humber; and the vast united ice-stream thence pursued its onward southern course, enfolding everything in its icy embrace, to the Thames and to the Severn. [89b]  These great ice-streams created the geological formation called “The Drift,” or boulder-clay, which we have at Woodhall.  The clay is simply the detritus, produced by the grinding, through long ages, of the rocks under the vast and weighty ice-fields slowly moving over them, and the abrasion of the hill-sides which they scraped in their course.  The boulders are detached fragments, which fell from various rocky heights overhanging the ice-stream, rested on the surface of the ice-sheet, were borne along by it through hundreds of miles, and when, in the course of ages untold, the climate became milder, and the glaciers gradually shrunk and eventually disappeared, these fragments, often bearing the marks of ice-scraping, and oftener rounded by ice-action, fell to the soil beneath, and remain to this day, to bear their silent witness to the course once taken by the giant ice-stream.  The period through which this process was going on has been variously computed, from 18,000 years, according to the estimate of Major-General A. W. Drayson, F.R.A.S., who gives elaborate astronomical statistics in support of his views (Trans. Victoria Institute, No. 104, p. 260), to 160,000, as calculated by Mr. James Croll (“Climate and Time”).  It is now generally held that there were more than one ice-age, with inter-glacial breaks.  These boulders are abundant in our neighbourhood, and of all sizes.  p. 90They may be measured by inches or by yards.  There is a good-sized one in the vicarage garden at Woodhall Spa, which the present writer had carted from Kirkby-lane, a distance of a mile and a half.  There is a larger one lying on the moor, near the south-east corner of the Ostler Ground.  The writer has one in his own garden, a large one, more than 6ft. in length by 3½ft. high, and 2½ft. thick.  It took five horses to drag it from its position, a quarter of a mile distant.  There are six visible in the parish of Langton, two or three large ones near Old Woodhall Church; several large ones in Thimbleby, Edlington, and elsewhere.  Smaller ones are often to be seen placed at turns in the roads to prevent drivers running their vehicles into the bank, or used as foundations to old cottages or farm buildings; and still smaller specimens may be constantly picked up by the pedestrian, or the sportsman, in his rambles through the fields.  Much interest has of late years been taken in these boulders, arising from the distinct classes of glaciers to which I have referred, and the consequent difference between the nature of the boulders, as well as the source from which they have come, according as they belong to the one class or the other; and our Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union have now a special “boulder committee” engaged in the investigation of this subject.

The late Professor Sedgewick, of Cambridge (whose lectures the writer attended), was the first to notice that along the Holderness shore there were (as he says) “an incredible number of blocks of granite, gneiss, greenstone, mica, etc., etc., resembling specimens derived from various parts of Scandinavia.” [90]  These, we now know, were dropped by the great Scandinavian glacier; and, along with the kinds of stone here named, there are also boulders of Rhombporphyry (the “Rhomben porphyry” of Norwegian geologists, from the neighbourhood of Christiana), Augite syenite, and several more, not of British origin.  These boulders are now being searched for, and found in our own neighbourhood.  On the other hand, there is the different class of boulders which were brought down by the native inland glaciers.  These consist largely of igneous kinds.  The rugged hills of the Lake district owe their origin to fire; and the boulders which the glaciers have transported correspond.  The shap granite, for instance, which is probably one of the commonest of this p. 91class, comes from the shap granite bed of Wastdale, in Cumberland.  Boulders of this rock, as Mr. Kendall tells us, “passed over Stainmoor in tens of thousands,” [91a] to visit us in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.  Other kinds are Felspar porphyry from Eskdale, in Cumberland, Andesite from Borrowdale, Granophyr from Ennerdale and Buttermere, Quartz, Basalt, and several more from the crystalline formations in the Lake district.  Several boulders of these rocks have also been found in our own neighbourhood; and doubtless more remain to reward the explorer. [91b]  I have dwelt at some length on this particular formation—the boulder clay—because it is the most ready to hand; it lies on the surface, in many parts around us, within the ken of the ordinary visitor to Woodhall Spa.  It may give an additional interest to his rambles in search of health, to know that he may, at any moment, pick up a boulder which has travelled further, and passed through more strange vicissitudes, than he can well have done himself; perhaps, with Shakespeare, to read “Sermons in Stones,” and to moralise on the brevity of human life, with all its ailments, compared with those ages untold, through which the pebble in his hand slowly [91c] travelled on its long, laborious journey, to rest at length as a constituent element of the locality, where he himself is seeking relief and recreation.

To the west of Woodhall Spa, beyond the Stixwould-road, near the vicarage, and northward, the surface sand, in some parts, at the depth of a foot, or slightly more, hardens into an ironstone, so compact that tree roots cannot penetrate it.  In root-pruning or manuring apple-trees, I have found the tap-root stunted p. 92into a large round knob, further downward growth being prevented by this indurated formation.  This oxide of iron also pervades the sandy soil, in parts, to a depth of four or five feet, impregnating the water with ferruginous properties, so that it “ferrs” bottles, or vessels, in which it is allowed to stand for any length of time.  In consequence, the water frequently has a dull appearance, although the iron may probably make it a wholesome tonic.

The surface sand, which is of a still lighter character on the moor ground in Woodhall, and in Martin, Roughton, and Kirkby, contiguous to Woodhall, is what is technically called the “Old Blown Sand,” borne by the winds from the whilom salt marshflats of the Witham, when it was much wider than at present, and a tidal arm of the sea.  It is comparatively a recent formation, yet abounding in fine particles, or pebbles, of quartz, and other elements of far earlier date; the larger of these are often rounded by tidal action.  Below this surface sand we find, in many parts, a blue clay of varying depth.  In a pit called Jordan’s pond, in an abandoned brickyard on the east of the road to Stixwould, it is at least 16ft. thick; also, in a large pit in Kirkstead, near Hogwood, some half-mile south-east of the Abbey Inn, which was dug to procure this clay, for “claying” the light super-soil, otherwise almost barren, it is many feet thick.  Ammonites and other fossils are plentiful in it, often cemented together with veins of gypsum.  Both these pits are mentioned in the Government Geological Survey (pp. 152, 153) of “The country around Lincoln.”  Close by the latter pit the writer once found a curious fossil, which was for some time a puzzle to all who saw it.  It is now in the British Museum, and was pronounced to be an Echinus crashed into an Ammonite.

The Kimeridge clay, named as the next stratum in the bore of the Woodhall well, crops up first about Halstead Hall in Stixwould, and continues through Woodhall to Horncastle, and so on to Wragby and Market Rasen.  It abounds in fossils.  Mr. Skertchly [92] found in the first of the pits just named, that this clay was divided into three layers, the upper being a line of Septaria (or nodules) full of serpulæ one foot in depth, then soft dark-blue clay, 6ft.; and below that another course of Septaria; and p. 93Professor J. R. Blake records from this pit the following fossils[93a]:—Belemnites nitidus, Ammonites serratus, Rissoa mosensis, Avicula ædiligensis, Cyprina cyreneformis, Ostrea deltoides, Lima ædilignensis, Thracia depressa, Arca, Serpula tetragona.  In other pits in the neighbourhood several other fossils have been found. [93b]  [For a list of fossils found about Woodhall see Appendix II.]  A peculiarity of this stratum is that the upper part of it contains bands of “inflammable shales,” being blue, laminated, bituminous clays, which burn readily.  It was the presence of these which has tempted explorers to throw away their money in search of coal; as in the case at Donington on-Bain, where Mr. Bogg drove a bore to the depth of 309ft., but only found clay and thin bands of inflammable schist. [93c]  In the case of Woodhall Spa, the money thrown away on one purpose has brought health and wealth to others, from a source then undreamt of in man’s philosophy.  We cannot leave the Kimeridge clay without noting that its presence at Woodhall, in the position where it is, as the first geological formation below the surface drift, opens to us a vista—reveals to us a yawning hiatus—which embraces a vast expanse of time.

In the normal order of geological strata, the whole series of cretaceous formations have to be passed through before reaching the Oolite formation, of which the Kimeridge clay forms almost the upper layer.  But at Woodhall and the surrounding district the whole of this series of rocks and soils is wanting.  Their absence is eloquent, and tells a tale of widespread destruction.  Standing near the Tower on the Moor we can see in the distance, stretching from north-west to south east, the range of hills called the “Wolds,” which, with a “cap” of marls, or sandy and flinty loams, are composed almost entirely of chalk; from them, near Cawkwell Hill (the hill par excellence of chalk), comes the water supply of Horncastle and Woodhall.  They extend for a length of some 45 miles, with a width of some six miles to eight.  The actual depth of the chalk is not exactly known, but a boring made through it, near Hull, reached the p. 94Oolite beneath at 530ft.  We may perhaps, therefore, put the average at 500ft. [94a]  Doubtless, at one period, this cretaceous formation extended over the whole tract of country, but southward and westward from the foot of the present wolds it has since been swept away.  And this must have taken place before the glacial period, because the glacial boulder clay lies upon the Kimeridge clay, which normally underlies the chalk.  Mr. Jukes Brown (“Geological Journal,” No. 162, p. 117) says: “The Boulder clay is bedded against the slope of the chalk, shewing that this escarpment had retired to its present position in pre-glacial times.”  By what precise process this was effected must be left to our savants to decide; but the remarkable fact remains, that a solid stratum, or rather series of allied strata, from 500ft. to 1,000ft. in thickness, has, by one process or another, been wiped out of existence, over the large area now coated by the Kimeridge clay.  Through ages of enormous length the chalk was forming as the bed of a sea; a deposit consisting of inconceivable myriads of beautiful minute shells, mainly of the foraminifera, which can be detected by the microscope; and its destruction probably occupied as long a period as its formation.

Mr. Jukes Brown, whom I have just quoted, says: “The Wold hills must have been, in some way, exposed to a severe and long-continued detrition, when erosive agencies were very active.”  Active, indeed, they must have been, to efface from an area so extensive a solid formation from 500ft. to 1,000ft. in thickness.  And this boulder clay, as Mr. Jukes Brown further observes, has forced its way up the sides of the chalk, in places, to a height varying from 300ft. to 400ft.

The Oxford clay, which lies next below the Kimeridge, is a deep sea deposit, dark blue, with brown nodular stones; some of the fossils found in it are Nucula Ornata, Ammonites Plicatilis, A. Rotundus, Cucullæa, Gryphæa Dilatata, Leda Phillipsii, Annelida Tetragona, and A. Tricarinata, Avicula inequivalvis. [94b]

Kellaway’s rock, which lies just below, so called from a village in Wiltshire, near Chippenham, is a mixture of yellowish and buff sands, with brown and buff sandstone.  The p. 95chief fossils are Gryphæa Dilatata, and G. bilobata, Belemnites in abundance, and Avicula Braam-buriensis. [95a]

The Cornbrash, which succeeds (so called also from a district in Wiltshire, favourable to corn), is a light grey, fine-grained limestone, often so hard as to need blasting.  It abounds in fossils.  Among them are Avicula Echinata, Ostræa Sowerbyi, Clypeus Ptotii, Ammonites Macrocephalus, A. Herveyi, Nucula Variabilis, Astarte Minima, Trigonia (of four kinds), Modiola (of four kinds), Myacites (five kinds), Cypricardia, Corbicella Bathonica, Pholadomya (two kinds), Cardium (three kinds), Pecten (six kinds), and several more. [95b]

The great Oolite (so named from the Greek Oon, an egg, referring to the number of small stones, like fish-ova, found in it) is divided into Oolite clays and O. limestone.  The clays are mottled green and bluish, with bands of ironstone, and concretions of lime.  They indicate a shallow sea, as contrasted with the Oxford clay.  Fossils are not numerous, but Rhinconella Concinna, Gervillia Crassicosta, Modiola Ungulata, Ostræa Gregaria, O. Sowerbvi, O. Subrugulosa, Perna Quardrata, Trigonia Flecta, and Palate of Fish are found. [95c]  These beds correspond to the so-called Forest Marble of the South of England.

The Oolite limestone beds consist of white soft limestones, having at intervals bands of marly clay.  This formation burns well, and makes good lime.  Its chief fossils are Serpula, Rhynconella, Terebratula, and T. Intermedia, Avicula Echinata, Corbicella, Lima Rigida, Lucina, Modiola Imbricata, Myacites Calceiformis, Mytilus Furcatus, Ostræa Sowerbyi, Pecten Vagans, Pteroperna plana, Trigonia, T. costata, T. flecta, T. striata, T. undulata. [95d]

The Estuarine deposit, underlying the great Oolite limestone, is composed of light blue, green, and purple clays, intersected by soft bands of sandstone, and having at its base a band of nodular ironstone.  It is not very fossiliferous, but the following are found:—Rhynconella Concinna, Modiola Imbricata, Ostræa Sowerbyi, Monodonta. [95e]  The sandstone bands contain plant-markings in considerable numbers.  As its name implies, this formation p. 96was produced as the bed of an estuary or tidal river.

The next lower formation is the Lincolnshire limestone.  This enters largely into the making of what is called “the Cliff,” which is the high land running south from Lincoln (visible from Woodhall) to the west of the Witham Valley and the Fens.  It is a hard building stone, though once the muddy bed of a sea.  It is sub-divided into the Hibaldstow and Kirton beds, so called because these strata are exposed in those parishes.  Dipping to the east, it underlies the Fens and other upper strata to be found in the Woodhall well.  It abounds in fossils, there being as many as 340 species classified, [96a] and consists, indeed, very largely of the hard parts of shells and corals compressed into a solid mass.  To a Lincolnshire person, it is sufficient to say of this stone that our grand Cathedral is mainly built of it.  We can only give here a few of the more frequent species of fossils:—Three kinds of Echinus, Coral (Thecosmilia gregarea), Serpula socialis, Lima (five kinds), Ostræa flabelloides, Pecten (two kinds), Hinnites abjectus, Astarte elegans, Cardium Buckmani, Ceromya Bajociana, Cyprina Loweana, Homomya Crassiuscula, Isocardia, Cordata, Rhynconella (four kinds); among the bivalves are Avicula Inequivalvis, and A Munsteri, Lima (three kinds), Lucina Bellona, Modiola Gibbosa, Mytilus Imbricatus, Pholadomya (two kinds), Trigonia costata; of univalves, Natica (two kinds), Nerinea Cingenda; of fishes, Strophodus (two kinds). [96b]  This is a most useful stone for building purposes.  The so-called “Lincoln stone” is largely used in our churches; whilst the “Ancaster quarries,” which also belong to this formation, are famous.  The commissioners appointed in 1839 to report on the building stones of England, for the new houses of Parliament, stated that “many buildings constructed of material similar to the Oolite of Ancaster, such as Newark and Grantham churches, have scarcely yielded to the effects of atmospheric influences.”  (“Old Lincolnshire,” vol. i., p. 23.)  The well-known Colly-Weston slates are the lowest stratum of this rock.  The fine old Roman “Newport Arch,” which for some 700 years has “braved the battle and the breeze,” a pretty good test of its durability, is built of this stone.

p. 97The base on which this lowest Oolite lies is the Northampton Sands, an irony stratum of red ferruginous sand and sandstone, the upper portion of it also being called the Lower Estuarine deposit.  It is from this stratum so many springs arise in various parts of the county, as already mentioned, and among them the Woodhall well water.  Its fresh water conditions show it to have been the bed of a great river, but a tidal river, as among the fossils which it contains some are marine shells.  In this formation is found the iron-stone, which is worked at Lincoln.  Its commoner fossils are Lima duplicata, L. Dustonensis, Hinnites abjectus, Astarte elegans, Cardium Buckmani, Modiola Gibbosa, Ammonites Murchisoniæ, Belemnites Acutus.  Its ferruginous layers are (as given by Capt. Macdakin), [97a]  Peroxide bed, clay ironstone, hard carbonate of iron, hard blue carbonate peroxidised band, blue ferruginous sand, ironstone nodules, bed of coprolites with iron pyrites.

And this brings us to the Lias formation, in which lies the lower part, amounting to rather more than a third, of the Woodhall wells.  It is divided into the upper Lias of clay and shale; the middle Lias of Marlstone rock bed, clay, and ironstone; and the lower Lias of clays, ironstone clays, limestones. [97b]  This formation, with a thickness of from 900 to 1,000 feet, runs across England from Yorkshire and Lincolnshire down to the coast of Dorset.  The upper Lias of the Woodhall wells also helps to form the slope from 100 feet to 150 feet in thickness of the escarpment called “the Cliff,” to the west of the Witham Fens, and to the north of Lincoln, by Fillingham, and so on.  Lincoln itself stands on Lias beds, with a capping of the lower Oolite limestone. [97c]  It contains many Belemnites, Lucina, Ammonites Bifrons, A. Serpentinus, A. Communis, A. Heterophillus, Nucula Hammeri, Pleuromyæ, [97d] and especially the Leda Ovum, p. 98which distinguishes it from other strata.  The middle Lias, which underlies the upper, contains Ammonites Spinatus, A. Margaritatus (in great abundance), Rhinconella, Icthyosauri, Plesiosauri, and fossil wood, etc. [98a]  The lower Lias contains Ammonites Capricornus, with many pyrites, A. Ibex, A. Jamesoni, A. Armatus, A. Oxynotus, A. Obtusus, A. Semicostatus, A. Bucklandi, A. Angulatus, A. Planorbis, Gryphœa incurva very abundant, and fossils of many other kinds. [98b]  This brings us to the base of the Woodhall Spa wells.  For a full list of the fossils so far found at Woodhall, the reader is referred to Appendix II. at the and of this volume.

These strata are shewn in the diagram given at the head of this chapter.

In giving the history of the well in Chapter I., the writer did not state the properties of the Woodhall water; but as these depend upon the geological elements, from which it originates, this seems to be the proper place to state them.  The official analysis made by Professor Frankland, F.R.S., 1875, is as follows:—[98c]



Grains per gallon

Total solids in solution



Organic carbon



Organic Nitrogen






Nitrogen as Nitrates and Nitrites






Total combined nitrogen












Temporary hardness



Permanent do



Total do.



The water contains unusually large proportions of Iodine and Bromine.—E. Frankland.

The remarkable features of this analysis are the quantities of iodine and bromine.  Professor Frankland, for the Geological Survey, found, of iodine, 6.1 grains in 10 gallons of the water; bromine, 44 grains in ditto.

As compared with the water of Cheltenham, of Leamington, and of the famed German Spa at Kreuznach, we have the original analysis of Mr. West, of Leeds, giving:—

In 10 galls.




one third grain

one and two-thirds grains


one grain

four grains

p. 99Kreuznach

one and one-quarter grain

twenty-five grains


six and one-sixth grains

forty-four grains

The Woodhall water, therefore, has five times the amount of iodine, and nearly twice the amount of bromine, of the strongest known Continental water. [99a]

I mentioned, in Chapter I., that the Dead Sea, in Palestine, was stronger in bromine than Woodhall.  According to M. Marchand’s analysis, it contains bromide of magnesium 74 times the amount at Kreuznach, or about 30 times the strength of Woodhall; but the other great ingredient of the Woodhall water, iodine, is absent from the Dead Sea. [99b]  In iodine the only known water surpassing Woodhall Spa is the spring of Challes in Savoy, [99c] which contains 1.045 parts per 100,000 of water.

I may add that at Old Woodhall, about four miles distant from “The Spa,” at a depth of 33 feet, in sinking a well, some 20 years ago, salt water was tapped, resembling in taste that of the Woodhall Spa well, but it gradually became less salt, and finally was replaced by a supply of fresh water. [99d]

There is one other geological feature of the neighbourhood of Woodhall, which has not yet been touched upon, viz., the Fens bordering on the Witham.  These are said to have been, to some extent, drained by the Romans; [99e] but p. 100within the last few centuries they have been partially reclaimed, have relapsed into bog and morass, and been finally reclaimed for good, in quite recent times.  The writer, when a boy, used to visit a large farmer, living in Blankney Fen, whose father built the house in which he resided.  Before building, an artificial foundation had to be made, by transporting soil in boats, or carts, from terra firma beyond the Fens, the whole Fen tract being more or less bog and swamp.  When this had become sufficiently consolidated, the house and farm buildings were erected upon it; and from that centre roads were constructed, drains made, and the work of reclamation gradually extended.  These drains, or “skirths,” as they are sometimes called, were periodically cleaned by a “bab,” a kind of dredge, with hooks at its under side to tear up plant roots.  Great flocks of geese were kept, which were plucked alive several times a year, for the sale of the feathers, to make the famed Lincolnshire feather beds, and quills for the pens, now rarely seen, although, 50 years ago, in universal use.  Until the land had become systematically reclaimed, it still continued to be extensively flooded in the winter months, and all cattle had to be housed, or penned, during that time, on the artificially raised ground.  It frequently happened that early frosts caught the farmer napping, with his cattle still afield; in which case they had to be driven home over the ice, and numbers were at times “screeved,” i.e., “split up,” in the process, and had to be slaughtered.  The fen soil is a mass of decayed vegetation, chiefly moss, interlarded with silt, deposited by the sea, which formerly made its oozy way as far as Lincoln.  Large trees of bog oak and other kinds are found in the soil.  These, it is supposed, became rotted at their base by the accumulating peat; and the strong south-west winds, prevailing then as they do now, broke them off, and they are, in consequence, generally found with their heads lying in a north-easterly direction.  Borings at different places show the fen soil to vary in depth from 24ft. at Boston to 14½ft. at Martindale; but, as it has been gradually dried by drainage, it has considerably shrunk in thickness, and buried trees, which only a few years ago were beyond the reach of plough or spade, are now not uncommonly caught by the ploughshare.

The river Witham, which the visitor to Woodhall Spa sees skirting the railway, has passed through more than one metamorphosis.  p. 101Now confined by banks, which have been alternately renewed and broken down at different periods, before the drainage of the Fens, it spread over all that level tract of country, meandering by its many islands and through its oozy channels and meres, the resort of countless flocks of wild fowl and fish ad infinitum, but preserving still one main navigable artery, by which vessels of considerable tonnage could slowly sail to Lincoln.  Acts were passed, in the reigns of Edward the Third.  Richard the Second, Henry the Seventh, Queen Elizabeth, and the two Charleses; and Commissioners were again and again appointed to effect the embanking and draining of these watery wastes, but with only temporary success; and it was not till 1787, or 1788, that the present complete system of drainage was commenced, which is now permanently established. [101a]  And in these days, the Fens, once consisting as much of water as of land, at times even suffer from a scarcity of that commodity; drains, which within the writer’s own recollection abounded with fish, being now often dry almost all the year round.  At a much more remote period the Witham was probably a much stronger river, and largely conduced to altering the features of the county.  This subject has been carefully investigated by our geologists, [101b] with the result that certain changes in the strata of the upper Witham valley, from its source near Grantham, and changes also in the lower valley of the Trent, go far to prove that the Trent, instead of, as it does now, flowing into the Humber, took a more easterly course, and joining forces with the Witham some miles above Lincoln, the united streams pushed their way through the gorge, or “break” in the cliff formation, which occurs there, and is technically known as “The Lincoln Gap,” and continued their course to the sea by p. 102something like the present channel of the Witham.  The idea of this “Lincoln Gap,” though the term is not actually used, would seem to have originated with Mr. W. Bedford, who stated, in a paper already mentioned, read before “The Lincolnshire Topographical Society,” in 1841, that “the great breach below Lincoln could only be accounted for by the mighty force of agitated waters dashing against the rocks, through long ages”.  (Printed by W. and B. Brookes, Lincoln, 1843, p. 24, &c.)  The theory would seem to be now generally accepted.  Thus: “that ancient river, the river” Witham, honoured, we believe, by the Druid as his sacred stream, [102] consecrated in a later age to the Christian, by the number of religious houses erected on its shores, through a yet earlier stage of its existence performed the laborious task of carving out the vale of Grantham, and so adding to the varied beauty of our county; then, by a kind of metempsychosis of the river spirit, it was absorbed in the body of the larger Trent; the two, like “John Anderson, my Joe,” and his contented spouse, “climbed the hill together,” to the Lincoln Gap, and hand in hand wended their seaward way, to help each other, perchance, in giving birth to the Fenland; or, according to another theory, in making its bed.  Through a long era this union lasted; but, as the old saying is, “the course of true love never did run smooth”; a change geologic came over the scene, and, through force of circumstance, the p. 103two, so long wedded together, broke the connubial bond, and henceforth separated, pursuing each their different ways; the one, the Trent, the river of thirty fountains, betaking herself “to fresh woods and pastures new,” after brief dalliance with the Ouse, became bosomed in the ample embrace of the Humber; the other, the humbler stream of the two, retaining its previous course, pursued the even tenor of its way through the flats of the Fenland, with their “crass air and rotten harrs,” to find its consolation in the “dimpling smiles,” but restless bosom, of the shallow “Boston Deeps.”  During the period of that ancient alliance of these two streams the tract of country between Lincoln and Boston, or rather between the points now occupied by those places, would be scoured by a greatly-augmented volume of water, and this may possibly account in some degree for the shallowness of “The Wash,” and the number of submarine sandbanks which lie off the mouth of the present Witham.  Had the union of the two streams continued to the present time, bringing down their united body of silt, Boston would either never have come into existence at all, or would have been much further from the sea than it is.

The precise period at which this riverine union prevailed would seem to be still an open question; and we may say, with Horace, adhuc sub judice lis est; for, whereas Professor Archibald Geikie, Director-General of the Government Geological Survey, [103a] gives his opinion that “the gravels which have been laid down by an older Trent, that flowed through the gorge in the Jurassie escarpment at Lincoln, were later than the glacial deposits”; on the other hand, Mr. F. M. Burton, F.L.S., F.G.S., [103b] who has a thorough local knowledge of the county and its geological features, says there is sufficient evidence “to convince any reasonable mind that the present course of the Trent is not its original one; but that ages ago, in early pre-glacial times, I think, it passed through the Lincoln Gap to the fenland beyond, which was then open bay.”  We may well say with Pope: “Who shall decide when doctors disagree?” [103c]  This, p. 104however, is too large a subject for a chapter on the geology of Woodhall Spa; but this brief reference to it may serve to show the visitor, who has the taste and inclination for such pursuits, that there are still subjects for interesting investigation in our neighbourhood, on which he might well employ his capacities for research.


In entering on this portion of our Records we are passing from the Natural to the Artificial, from the operations of the Creator to the works of the creature.  A systematic process of enquiry would shew that, as in geology, so here, the subject-matter lies in layers.  We have the prehistoric period concerning palæolithic and neolithic man; then follow the British, the Roman, the Saxon, the Danish, and the Norman strata, or eras; so many have been the elements which have contributed to the moulding of our country and our people, as we find them at the present day.  But again, as in geology, so here, we find few traces in our own immediate neighbourhood of the earlier links in this series—the people who preceded the historic Britons.  On Twig Moor, near Brigg, in the north of the county, a tract of ground very similar to our own Moor, many flint implements have been found.  On an excursion of our “Naturalists’ Union” to that tract, one of the party found “a handful” of stone “knives and finely-chipped arrow heads.” [105a]  The members of the same Society, visiting Woodhall in 1893, found on the Moor “patches of pale-coloured sand, slightly ferruginous, and having a considerable number of flints,” but none were found which could be said to shew traces of human use.  This, however, is no reason why the visitor to Woodhall should not search for them.  That they exist in our neighbourhood has been proved, since a good specimen of flint axe was found a few years ago by Mr. A. W. Daft, on Highrigge farm, near Stobourne Wood, in Woodhall.  It is about five inches in length and 1¼ inches broad, and, from its high degree of polish, probably was the work of neolithic man. [105b]  Another, smaller, flint celt p. 106was found in 1895 by Mr. Crooks, of Woodhall Spa, in the parish of Horsington, near Lady-hole bridge, between Stixwould and Tupholme.  Its length was 3½ inches, by 2½ inches in breadth, thickness about ¾ inch.  More recently one was found in a field on the Stixwould road by his son, about three inches in length and 1½ inches broad, thickness ¾ inch.  In 1904 several finely chipt flint arrow heads, about one inch in length and breadth, were found in the parish of Salmonby, near Horncastle, in a field called “Warlow Camp,” doubtless the site of a prehistoric settlement.  The present writer has picked up at odd times some half dozen specimens, bearing more or less trace of human manipulation, but none of them so well finished as those referred to.  A farmer residing near the Moor, to whom I recently explained what a flint implement was, said he had noticed several stones of that kind, but did not know that they were worth picking up.  Two molar teeth of the Elephas primigenius, or extinct mammoth, have been found in a pit at Kirkby-on-Bain, situated between the road and the canal, about a quarter of a mile north-west of the church; [106a] and bones of Bos primigenius and Cervus elaphus were found among gravel and ice-scraped pebbles in a pit, near Langworth bridge (not far from Bardney).  The former of these, the gigantic Ox, or Urus, belonged to the palæolithic age, [106b] when the first race of human beings peopled this land, but was extinct in the neolithic period in this country (though in a later age re-introduced).  The latter, which is our red-deer, survived in a wild state, in our county and neighbourhood, until comparatively modern times.  Large vertebræ, apparently of some huge Saurian, have been found, which the writer has seen, in West Ashby; and a large mammoth tooth is preserved among the treasures of the late Mechanics’ Institute at Horncastle, having been found in the neighbourhood.  These are all the pre-historic relics which I can find recorded in our neighbourhood.

Later antiquities, of the British, Roman, and succeeding periods, are, or have been, fairly plentiful; the misfortune being that, as we, as yet, have no County Museum wherein they could be preserved, they have doubtless many of them been lost, or, if kept in private hands, are unrecorded.

p. 107When the bed of the Witham, by order of the Royal Commissioners, was cleansed in 1788, a number of swords, spears, arrow heads, etc., were found on the hard clay bottom, which had been covered over, and so preserved, by the accumulated mud.  And in the “Gentleman’s Magazine” for that year a list of them was given.  The late Sir Joseph Banks, of Revesby Abbey, secured a considerable number of such relics, catalogues of which are given in “Lincolnshire Notes & Queries,” Vols. III. and IV.  They consist of arms and utensils of our British, Roman, Saxon, and Danish ancestors.  Among the more interesting of these was a whittle, or “anelace,” exactly resembling one described by Greene as part of Chaucer’s dress. [107]  In connection with Woodhall were the following:—A sword, probably Saxon, brought up from the Witham bed near “Kirkstead Wath,” entangled in the prongs of an eel-stang.  The pommel and guard are tinned, as we now tin the inside of kitchen utensils; an art which we should not have known that our forefathers at that period possessed but for such discoveries as this.  The polish still remained on parts of the blade “admirably brilliant.”  It bore the inscription + Benvenutus + on one side, and on the other + me fecit +, in Saxon characters; the name shewing that the maker was an Italian, the crosses probably implying that he (or the owner, if made to order) was a Christian; while from the Saxon lettering we should infer that the Italian sword-cutler exercised his craft in the north of Europe.  Another sword, with brass scabbard, of elegant workmanship and richly gilt, was found near Bardney.  Several more swords, with Saxon and Roman inscriptions, were also found near Bardney.

p. 108A dagger was brought up by an eel-stang near “Kirkstead Wath,” the handle, of elm, being in fairly good preservation, the only instance of wood thus surviving. [108a]  Several others, one of superior work with an ivory handle, were found in the Witham near Bardney.

A spear head of bone, of British structure, was found in Stixwould in an ancient sewer, which was being cleansed.  Sir J. Banks says that “it does credit to the skill of the person who made it.” [108b]  Several more of these were found at Bardney and other parts of the Witham; and again at “Kirksted Wath” the eel-stang brought up an iron specimen, which from its appearance would seem to have been broken in action.

A large barbed arrow head was found near Bardney, with an orifice large enough to receive a broom handle. [108c]

A Roman lituus, or clarion, was found near Tattershall Ferry.  Though imperfect, both ends being broken off, it is interesting as being probably the only one in existence.  This instrument is represented among trophies on the base of Trojan’s column in Rome, and appears on some Roman coins. [108d]  A description is given in the “Archæologia” of the Society of Antiquaries (Vol. XIV.) of an iron candlestick, of curious construction, being one of six which were found p. 109in the Witham by Kirkstead.  We may well imagine that they, at one time, served to light the refectory of the Abbey, where the monks of old dispensed hospitality to the poor and needy, or to the wayfaring stranger.  Perhaps the most interesting relic of all is a British shield, of finely-wrought metal, originally gilt, with a boss of carnelian, and ornamented with elaborate devices, shewing that those primitive people, though living a rude life, had attained to a very considerable degree of skill in working metals.  It is described in the “Archæologica” (Vol. XXIII.); and an engraving is given of it in “Fenland” by Skertchly and Miller (p. 463).  It was formerly in the Meyrick collection.

The above are a selection of the most interesting objects yielded up to us chiefly by the Witham; there have been many more, but of less importance.  Several Roman urns in different places have been exhumed.  The parish of Thornton runs down to Kirkstead station, passing almost within a stone’s throw of the Victoria Hotel; and in Thornton a small Roman vase was discovered when the railroad was made, in 1854.  The present writer has seen it, but it has, unfortunately, disappeared.  An engraving and description of it are given in the “Linc. Architectural Society’s Journal,” Vol. IV., Part II., p. 200.  It was nine inches in height, of rather rough construction, and with a rude ornamentation.  Two Roman urns, or, according to another account, six (“Lincolnshire N. & Q.”  Vol. III., p. 154), were also found at the north-east corner of a field, on the road leading from Stixwould to Bucknall, about 3½ miles from Woodhall.  They were of the kind technically termed “smoke burnt.”  The soil at the spot was a clay of so tenacious a character that several horse-shoes, some of them of a very old and curious make, have been found in the former quagmire.  Several large Roman urns have been found in, or near, Horncastle, and are preserved among the treasures of the late Mechanics’ Institute, having been presented to the town by the sole surviving trustee, Mr. Joseph Willson, to form, with other objects, the nucleus of a local museum at some future time.  Engravings of these also are given, with a Paper by Rev. E. Trollope, the late Bishop Suffragan of Nottingham, in the abovementioned Journal, at p. 210.

At Ashby Puerorum, so called because certain lands in the parish go to pay for the choristers of Lincoln Cathedral, in the year 1794, a labourer, cutting a ditch, discovered, three feet p. 110below the surface, a Roman sepulture, a stone chest squared and dressed with much care, in which was deposited an urn of strong glass of greenish hue.  The chest was of freestone, such as is common on Lincoln heath.  The urn, of elegant shape, contained human bones nearly reduced to ashes, and among them a small lacrimatory of very thin green glass. [110a]

On the Mareham road, on the south side of Horncastle, beyond the Black Swan inn, was a Roman burial ground, and several cinerary urns and some coffins have been discovered there.  One stone coffin now stands in the back premises of Mr. James Isle, near to the corner where the Spilsby and Boston roads meet.  In connection with this subject, I may here mention the most recent archæological “find” in Horncastle.  While digging gravel in a pit recently opened in a garden at the back of Queen Street, not far from the Mareham Road, in 1897, the pick of the labourer struck against a hard substance, about two feet below the surface, which, on examination, proved to be an ancient coffin.  It was constructed, except the lid, of one sheet of lead, slit at the corners to allow its being doubled up to form the sides and ends.  The coffin was 5ft. 2in. in length, and within were the remains of a skeleton, pronounced by experts to be that of a female.  A few days later a second lead coffin was found, similar to the former, except that it was 5ft. 7in. long, and the skeleton was pronounced to be that of a man.  Both coffins lay east and west.  The present writer was asked to investigate the matter.  On enquiry, it was found that, about 24 years before, three lead coffins had been found within 100 yards of the same spot; they were sold for old lead and melted down. [110b]  As Horncastle was the old Roman station Banovallum, the question arose whether these coffins were Roman, or of later, date.  The orientation of both implied that they were Christian.  After much interesting correspondence, the writer obtained the information from an antiquary of p. 111note, that if the lead was pure it would be of post-Roman date, if it contained an admixture of tin it would most probably be Roman.  Analysis of the lead was made by a professional, which gave “percentage of tin 1.65 to 97.08 of lead, 1.3 of oxygen, which implied that the persons buried were Romans, as well as Christians.  A peculiar feature in these burials was that there were lumps of lime about the skeletons.  I find, however, that some years ago a lead coffin was discovered near the Roman road, which passes through the parish of Bow, containing a skeleton with lime. [111]  From its position near the Roman road we should infer that this was a Roman burial, and the presence of lime confirms the origin of the Horncastle coffins.  The lime was probably used as a preservative.  One of the coffins was sold for a collection in Manchester, the other was bought by public subscription, to be preserved for a future local museum.  In the same gravel pit, a few days after the finding of the coffins, the labourer’s tool struck against another object, which proved to be an earthenware vessel, probably a Roman urn, but it was so shattered that he threw the fragments away, and they could not be recovered.  It was described as being about 10 inches high, of a brown colour, and bearing traces of a pattern running round it.

Several old coins have been found in Horncastle, and some at Tattershall.  As to the latter place, Allen, in his “History,” vol. ii., p. 72, and Weir (“Historical Account of Lincolnshire,” vol. i., p. 302), say that several Roman coins have been found, but they do not specify what they were.  There were two so-called “Roman camps” in what is called Tattershall Park, this being supposed to be the Roman station Durobrivis.  But, alas! “Jam seges est, ubi Troja fuit”: the plough has eliminated the camps from the field of view.  Roman coins would be a natural result of a Roman station.  It should not, however, be forgotten that Gough, Camden, and other authorities pronounce these camps to have been of British origin.  The earlier Britons used mainly a brass coinage, or iron bars (utuntur aut aere, aut taleis ferreis, says Cæsar, Bell. Gall., v. 12); so that there should not be much difficulty in deciding whether the coins were those of British or Roman occupants.  Taught by the Romans, the later Britons probably coined considerably.  The oldest p. 112specimens known to be coined at Lincoln bear the name of King Arthur.  Camden and Speed give several.  At Horncastle, the oldest coin found was British, having on one side, amid mystic circles, the figure of a “horse rampant,” indicative of the reverence in which the horse was held by the Druids. [112a]  Stukeley says, in his Diary, “a coign I got of Carausius found at Hornecastle.  It had been silvered over.  The legend of the reverse is obscure.  It seems to be a figure, sitting on a coat of armour, or trophy, with a garland in her left hand, and (legend) Victorii Aug.” [112b]  Silver coins of Vespasian, Lucius Septimius Severus, Alexander Severus, and Volusianus, a large brass coin of Trajan, middle brass of Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Trajan, Hadrian, Domitian, Antoninus Pius, Faustina the elder, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Lucius Verus, and Faustina the younger, and several more. [112c]  In December, 1898, a coin was found by a son of Mr. W. K. Morton, bookseller, while playing in the garden at Onslow House, which proved to be one of the Emperor Constantine.

In deepening the bed of the river Bain to form the canal, in 1802, an ornamental brass spur, part of a brass crucifix, and a dagger, were found together, at a short distance from the north basin of the canal; and the writer once found, some quarter of a mile out of Horncastle, on Langton hill, the rowell of a spur, with very long spikes, probably at one time belonging to a cavalier at the battle of Winceby.  He has also in his possession a pair of brass spurs, found not far from Winceby, massive and heavy, the spikes of the rowell being an inch in length.

Let us now return to Woodhall Spa; and on the way pause for a moment on the moor.  We have already mentioned a curious character, by name Dawson, but more commonly called “Tab-shag,” who, within the memory of the writer and many more, lived as a kind of squatter, in his sod-built hut, close to “The Tower.”  A sort of living fossil was this individual, short in stature, dark in complexion, and with a piercing, almost uncanny, eye; roughly clad, and looking as though he were something of a stranger to soap and water.  “What’s in a name?” said p. 113love-sick Juliet.  Yet the name which clung to this eccentric person probably had its significance.  In one of the “Magic Songs” of the Finns (given in “Folklore,” vol. i., No. iii., p. 827) a sort of demon is described as “Old Shaggy,” “the horror of the land,” “reared on a heather clump,” “living on the lee side of a stone,” corresponding much to the home and haunts of our Tab-shag.  Brogden [113] says “Shag-foal” means “a hobgoblin supposed to haunt certain places,” and a writer in the “Archæological Review” (for January, 1890) says that “Shag” is an old term for an elf, or Brownie, or “goblin dwarf.”  He adds, “The Hog-boy, or Howe-boy, of the Orkneys, in Lincolnshire is pronounced Shag-boy.”  An old lady, born at the beginning of the eighteenth century, is quoted, in “The Cornhill Magazine” (August, 1882) as saying she had often heard of fairies and shag boys, but had never seen one herself, “though lasses were often skeart (i.e., scared, frightened) at them.”  And the weird-looking figure of Tab-shag, living in the peculiar way he did, in a kind of “brock,” or “how,” of his own construction, was not altogether unlike that of one of the “How folk,” the “little people,” believed in by our superstitious forefathers, and whose memory is perpetuated in the Folk’s glove (digitalis) of our heath; as he squatted on his “faerie-knowe” on the lee side of the old Tower, or roamed over the dreary moor at nightfall to startle the belated wayfarer.

What may have been the meaning of the other element in his soubriquet is not so easy to say.  There is a Cornish (and probably British) word “Tab,” which means turf (“Archæol. Journ.” vol. ii., No. 3, p. 199), and that would suit this dweller on the heath; but it is more likely that “Tab” had a reference to the cat, “Tabby” being the term for a brindled cat.  And Bishop Harsnet, in his curious book on “The Superstitions of the Day” (1605), says a witch, or elf, “can take the form of hare, mouse, or cat.”

Tabby is really a corruption of Tibby, and that is from Tybalt, the name of puss in the old Beast Epic of the middle ages.  Ben Johnson uses “tiberts” for cats; and Mercutio, in “Romeo and Juliet” (Act. iii., sc. 1) addresses Tybalt, when wishing to annoy him, as “Tybalt, you rat catcher . . .  King of cats” (Folk-etymology).

This prowler on the heath might well be likened to pussy prowling after mice, or higher p. 114game. [114a]  But elfs and bogies have now vanished from our sylvan glades, as the will o’ the wisp has from the fens and marshes, where the present writer has seen it.  Drainage, and schools, and newspapers have banished alike such phenomena, and the belief in them; and Tab-shag, like many another equally harmless, and equally perhaps misunderstood, creature, will soon be forgotten.

One more antiquarian discovery may here be noticed.  Much interest was excited by an ancient canoe which was unearthed near Brigg, in North Lincolnshire, in the year 1886, while some excavators were working on the east side of the river Ancholme.  It was constructed out of a single tree, which must have been a very large oak.  It was 48ft. in length; its width 5ft. at the widest part, and 4ft. at the narrowest.  It had three transverse stays, also cut out of the solid.  It was distant from the present river about 40 yards, lying due east and west, on what must have been a sloping beach.  It was completely buried in a bed of alluvial clay; one end being 5ft. below the surface, and the other 9ft. below.  It is fully described in an article, written by T. Tindall Wildridge, in “Bygone Lincolnshire” (1st series).  The writer gives other instances of similar discoveries—in the Medway in 1720, in the Rother (Kent) in 1822, on the Clyde, etc.; various such boats, indeed, have been found on the Clyde, and, in one case, what is further interesting, the boat had within it a beautifully-finished stone celt, thus connecting it with the race of, probably, the later stone period.  Several finds of this kind have occurred in our own river, the Witham, or near it.

In digging for the foundations of a house in the upper part of the High Street, Lincoln, some 80 or 90 years ago, a boat was discovered fastened by a chain to a post, [114b] the spot being several yards higher than the present level of the Witham; thus showing that, when the Witham was a tidal river, it rose at times considerably higher than it does now.

p. 115In 1816 an ancient canoe was found, [115a] some 8 feet below the surface, in cutting a drain, parallel to the Witham, about two miles below Lincoln.  This, like the Brigg boat, was hollowed out of a single oak, 38ft. long, and 3ft. at the widest part.  Another was found in 1818, in cutting a drain not far from the last, but was unfortunately destroyed by the workmen before they knew what it was.  Its length was about the same as that of the previous boat, but it was 4½ft. wide.  Two more similar canoes—“dugouts,” as they were technically termed—were found about the same time in drain-cutting, in the same vicinity; and one of these was presented to the British Museum. [115b]  The Fen men used to call their boats “shouts,” from the Dutch “schuyt,” a wherry.  They propelled them along the drains by a long pole, called a “poy.”  It would be too much to say that all these vessels belonged to pre-historic man, because of the presence in one case of a flint implement, connecting it with the neolithic period.  Such boats have probably been used by all nations, at early stages of their existence.  The Greek writer Hippocrates, about 400 b.c., mentions the “monoxyle,” or one-tree boat; one has been found in the Tunhovd Fyord in Norway.  The Russians of the 9th century, in the neighbourhood of Novgorod, used them, laden with slaves for the market.  The Goths of the 3rd century, as stated by Strabo, swept the Black Sea with them; and Professor Righ says that they have been used until comparatively modern times in Scandinavia; but at any rate these found in our fens belong to a period, apparently, when the fens were not yet formed, or, at most, were forming.—Article on the Brigg Boat inByegone Lincolnshire.”

We now come to a case nearer home.  The visitor who takes a stroll from the cross roads by St. Andrew’s Church, along the Tattershall road, shortly after crossing the pellucid sewer, will see a large pond on his right, close to a farm yard; and on the other side, eastward, are two ponds, about 80 yards from the road.  All these ponds are pits dug for clay, which was put on the somewhat light land to strengthen it.  The present course of the sewer, now running in a straight line due east and west, from Kirkby lane to the Witham, is artificial.  It formerly pursued a tortuous course, and, on p. 116reaching the Tattershall road, flowed southward along the west side of that road, past what is now the Abbey Lodge public-house, dividing into more than one channel on its way to the Witham.  This change was made soon after the Kirkstead estate passed, by purchase, from the Ellison family to that of the present proprietor, in the year 1839, when great improvements were made in the farms; the woods, [116] which then reached from the Moor ground to the Tattershall road, were cleared away, and much land brought into cultivation which had hitherto been waste, or forest.  In digging for clay some 150 yards eastward from the road, and about the same distance, or a little more, south of the present course of the sewer, the labourers came upon the skeleton of a boat several feet below the surface.  I am not able to discover whether it was a so-called “dug-out,” formed from one trunk, or constructed, as modern boats are, of several planks.  Probably it would be the latter.  But its position several feet below the surface would seem to imply considerable antiquity; while its mere existence would seem to indicate that either the sewer was formerly a larger stream than it is now, to float such a boat, or that the waters of the Witham, when unconfined by such a bank as the present, extended to this point inland.  A circumstance which confirms the supposition of the sewer being larger is the fact that about this same place it is known that there was a mill-dam, and doubtless the stream turned the mill-wheel.  The boat in question may not, therefore, like some of those previously mentioned, have belonged to pre-historic man; and yet it might well lay claim to an antiquity sufficiently hoar to make it a relic of some interest.  But, though so long preserved beneath the surface, once above ground, it soon perished, and even the memory of it only remains with a few.

The visitor to Woodhall, who has antiquarian proclivities, may well spend an enjoyable day at Lincoln, not only for the sake of seeing the p. 117Cathedral, which is unsurpassed by any in the kingdom, or, rather, as has been said by no less an authority than Ruskin, “worth any two others”; or of visiting the Castle, founded by the Conqueror; but there are many other objects of much interest.  One of the most important discoveries of recent years is the remains of a Roman basilica, found beneath the house of Mr. Allis, builder, in Bailgate, where a small fee is charged for admission.  This has been pronounced by an authority, the late Precentor Venables, to have been “the finest Roman building in the kingdom.”  Its length was 250 feet, width 70 feet, and it had stately pillars rising to a height of 30 feet.  Beyond this is the fine old Newport Arch, the only Roman city gate in the kingdom.  “The noblest remnant of this sort in Britain,” says Leland.  He will do well to furnish himself with the “Pocket Guide to Lincoln,” by the late Sir Charles Anderson, one of our greatest authorities, and “A Walk through Lincoln,” by the late learned Precentor Venables, a compendium rich in historic lore.  Either of these will prove a valuable Vade mecum, but the former, perhaps, more for the study, to be perused before his visit; the latter a manual for the street.

It may be added that, within quite recent years, the visitor to Lincoln found himself at once, on landing from the train, in an atmosphere of antiquity, for, on emerging from the station of the G. N. Railway, he would see over the door of a shop, full of modern utensils, facing the gate of the station yard, the name “Burrus,” Cooper, a genuine Roman patronymic, the bearer of which we may well suppose to have been a lineal descendant of some early Roman colonist, settled at Lindum Colonia, “a citizen of no mean city,” for Precentor Venables reminds us (“A Walk through Lincoln,” p. 9) it is one (with Colchester and Cologne) of the only three cities which still preserve, embedded in their names, the traces of their ancient distinction as Roman colonies.

By way of whetting the appetite for further enquiry, I give here a succinct catena of historic items, shewing the many interesting memories which cluster round our ancient cathedral city.

Lincoln was the British Caer-Lind-coit, the “Fortress (or City) of River and Wood,” these being the chief features of the position; the river, a sacred British stream, which carved out for itself its channel through “the Lincoln Gap”; and the woods (Welsh, or British, ‘coed,’ a wood) which stretched far away for p. 118miles around it; of the remains of which De la Prime says, “infinite millions of roots and bodies of trees have been found, of 30 yards length and above, and have been sold to make masts and keels for ships . . . as black as ebony, and very durable.” [118a]  Then, as the city took the last element of its name from its woods (coeds), so the people who dwelt around were called Coitani, or woodmen [118b]; corresponding to the name given to the dwellers in the fens, Gir-vii, or men of the cars.  Lincoln was the royal city of the Coitani.

During the Roman occupation the Britons were christianized.  After the Romans left the country, the people having, through the long period of peace, almost lost the art of war, the British chief Vortigern called in the Saxons from the continent to aid him against the inroads of the Picts and Scots; and Hengist and Horsa, Saxon chiefs, came with a large following and settled in the country (circa a.d. 450).  Vortigern, with their assistance, repelled those northern marauders, and himself married Rowena, daughter of Hengist, giving to Hengist, in return for his aid, considerable lands—“multos agros,” says Matthew of Westminster [118c]—in Lindsey.

But these so-called friends soon proved to be enemies, and, in 462, seized London, York, and Lincoln.  Vortimer, son of Vortigern, died and was buried at Lincoln.  Vortigern himself retired into Wales, and was burnt in his castle there, in 485.

Matthew of Westminster records that King Arthur of “the round table” pursued a Saxon army as far as Lincoln, having defeated them, with a loss of 6,000 men, in a wood near Barlings.

The Saxons, being ultimately victorious, re-introduced Paganism, the names of their gods still surviving in our day-names, Tuesday (Tuisco), Wednesday (Woden), Thursday (Thor), Friday (Friga), Saturday (Seater).

Among the kingdoms of the Saxon Heptarchy, Mercia was the largest and most important division, [118d] founded by the chief Crida in a.d. 584, and Lincoln is said to have been its capital city.

p. 119Paulinus preached Christianity among the Saxons (circa a.d. 630), and converted Blecca, the governor of Lincoln, where a stone church was built, said by some to have been the first stone church in the kingdom, [119a] that at Glastonbury being made of wattles.  The Venerable Bede says it was of excellent workmanship. [119b]  Two churches in Lincoln have claimed to represent this ancient fabric.

At a later period the Humber formed a highway for the marauding Danes, who overran the country, and, if in nothing else, have left their traces in every village-name ending in “by.”  In their time Lincoln was the first city of the Pentapolis, or Quinque Burgi, of Fifburg, a league of the five confederate towns, Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, and Stamford.  Before the Norman Conquest Lincoln was the fourth city in the kingdom, and during the 11th and 12th centuries it was one of the greatest trading towns in the kingdom.  The castle was founded by the Conqueror, a.d. 1086, being one of four which he erected at York, Nottingham, Hastings and here; and 166 “mansions” were destroyed to provide space for it. [119c]

The Empress Maud, in 1140, took up her residence in Lincoln, and strongly fortified the castle.  It was besieged by Stephen, who was defeated and made prisoner at the battle of Lincoln.  A prophecy had long been current to this effect,—

“The first crowned head that enters Lincoln’s walls,
His reign proves stormy, and his kingdom falls.”

On Stephen’s restoration he visited Lincoln in triumph, wearing his crown; but subsequent events verified the prediction.

At Lincoln, in 1200, William the Lion, of Scotland, did homage to King John of England.

On the death of Queen Eleanor, the beloved wife of Edward I., at Harby, a small hamlet of North Clifton, Notts, the embalmed body was taken to Westminster for burial, but the viscera were brought to Lincoln and interred in the Cathedral, a.d. 1290.

In 1301 Edward I. held a Parliament in Lincoln, to decide on sending letters to Rome to Pope Boniface VIII., asserting England’s independence of the Pope.

p. 120In 1305 Edward I. kept his court in Lincoln a whole winter, and held another Parliament, in which he confirmed the Magna Charta of King John. [120a]

A Parliament was also held in Lincoln by Edward II., and another, in his first year, by Edward III.

In 1352 the staple of wool was removed from Flanders to England; and Lincoln, with Westminster, Chichester, Canterbury, Bristol, and Hull, was made a staple town [120b] for that commodity.

John, of Gaunt, fourth son of Edward III., resided in Lincoln Castle.  His son, “Henry of Bolingbroke,” afterwards Henry IV., was the only king born in this county.  John of Gaunt married Catherine Swynford, sister of Chaucer the poet.  She and a daughter were interred in the Cathedral, on the south side of the altar steps.  The royalty of Lincoln Castle was shewn by a shield over a doorway, bearing the arms of England and France, quarterly, which were shewn in Buck’s engraving, date 1727.

In the year 1386 Richard II. visited Lincoln and held a Court in the Episcopal Palace.  He granted to the Mayor and his successors the privilege of having a sword carried before them in civic processions.

Henry VI. visited Lincoln and held a Court at the Bishop’s Palace in 1440.

Henry VII. visited Lincoln in 1486, and was right royally entertained.

On the dissolution of monasteries [120c] by Henry VIII., Lincoln became the headquarters of 60,000 insurgents, who, by the subsequent “Pilgrimage of Grace,” made their protest against the spoliation, a.d. 1536.

In 1541 Henry VIII. made a progress to York, and, although he had called Lincolnshire one of p. 121“the most brute and beastly shires in the realm,” he, on his way, visited Lincoln in great state.  It is recorded that he found in the Cathedral Treasury 2,621 ozs. of gold and 4,285 ozs. of silver, besides jewels of great value.

On the commencement of the Civil Wars between Charles I. and his Parliament, the King came to Lincoln, where he received assurances of support from the Corporation and principal inhabitants.  He convened there a meeting of the nobles, knights, gentry, and freeholders of the county.  Lincoln Castle was taken by the troops of Cromwell, under the Earl of Manchester, in the year 1644.

James I. visited Lincoln a.d. 1617, hunted wild deer on Lincoln Heath, touched 50 persons for “the King’s evil,” attended service in the Cathedral, and cockfighting at “The Sign of the George.” [121a]

In 1695 William of Orange visited Lincoln, but it is on record that, being entertained the day before by Sir John Brownlow, at Belton, “the king was exceeding merry there, and drank very freely, which was the occasion, when he came to Lincoln, he could take nothing but a porringer of milk.” [121b]  In Lincolnshire phrase, he had been “very fresh.”

Reviewing these historic items, I think we may say, with the historian Freeman, that Lincoln “kept up its continuous being, as a place of note and importance, through Roman, English, Danish, and Norman Conquests,” and that it has a record of which we may fairly be proud, as meriting the praise which old Alexander Necham, in his treatise “De divina Sapientia,” bestowed upon it,”

Lindisiæ columen Lincolnia, sive columna,
   Munifica felix gente, repleta bonis.

I have said little of the Cathedral.  That is, indeed, too large a subject.  The visitor must see it for himself.  I have referred to the opinion of Mr. Ruskin.  His exact words, written at the time of the opening of the School of Art, to the Mayor, were these: “I have always held, and am prepared against all comers to maintain, that the Cathedral of Lincoln is out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British islands, worth any two other cathedrals we have got.” [121c]  Viewed in the distance, from the neighbourhood of Woodhall Spa, its three towers p. 122seem to coalesce into one, almost of pyramidal form, to crown the hill on which it stands.  That form was once more lofty, and more pointed, for each of the three towers had a spire.  An entry in the Minster Archives records the fall of the largest—ruina magnæ pyramidis—in 1547.  In 1808 the two other lesser spires were taken down, not without strong remonstrances and much skirmishing in the public papers and elsewhere, as to the propriety of the act.  The Lincoln people proved themselves more law-abiding than they had been on a previous occasion, for when, in 1726, the Chapter had decided to remove them, there was a very considerable riot, called “The Religious Mob,” of which an amusing account was found among some MS.

Tuesday night, Sept. 20, 1726, a mob was raised in Lincoln to hinder the puling down the 2 west End spirs of the Cathedrall, which was then began to be puled down it was computed ther was aBout 4 or 500 menOn Wednesday following by orders of the Marsters of the Church sent an order to the Mayor and Aldermen desiering them to send a Belman through the town with this cry, whereas there as Been a Tumult for this 2 or 3 Long Day, upon puling the 2 west end Spirs of the Cauthed Church of Lincoln, this is to give satisfaction that they have made a stop’ and that the spirs shall be repaired again with all speed.”

On hearing this important proclamation “the mob with one accord gave a great shout and said ‘God bless the King.’”

The emeute terminated with no more serious results than some headaches the next day, as the beer barrels in the Chancellor’s cellars were broached and drained to the last drop by the exultant crowd. [122]

An interesting feature of Lincoln is the ancient “Jew’s House,” situated on the left hand of “the street which is called strait,” on the “Steep Hill.”  The Jews of old, notwithstanding the scorn with which they were often treated, were persons of no small consideration to almost all ranks, from the Sovereign downwards.  Their almost instinctive propensity for amassing wealth gave them a powerful lever for moving any who were in need of the moneylender; and there were few who were not.  Through them, and sometimes through them alone, the sovereign could indirectly break the power of his unruly barons, and, naturally, in p. 123a city of commerce such as Lincoln was, as well as the not unfrequent seat of Parliament, and the residence of powerful members of the nobility, the Jews were an important element in the population.  Among the “Pipe Rolls” of the “Public Records,” there are frequent mentions of them; the famous Aaron and his kinsfolk figuring largely among them.  I here give a few brief extracts taken from those Rolls (31 Henry I. [1130–1]—1 John [1199–1200]).

William of the Isle renders count of the ferm of Lincolnshire . . . and (cr.) by payment of King’s Writ to Aaron the Jew, £29 8s. l0d. . . . owes £12 4s. 9d.  He renders count of the same debt in the treasury £2 6s. 9d. new money, for £2 4s. 9d. blank money, and £10 in two tallies, and is quits.—12 Hen. II., Rot. i. mem. i. Linc.

The Sheriff accounts for the ferm of the counties, And (cr.) by payment by King’s writ to Aaron of Lincoln and Ysaac Jew £80.—22 Hen. II., Dorset and Somerset.

Benedict brother of Aaron, and Benedict son of Isaach, and Benedict son of Jaocb render count of £6 for one mark of gold to be quits of the pledges of Isaac son of Comitissa.—25 Hen. II., City of Lincoln.

The following looks very like Jews leaguing together to “Jew” a fellow Jew:—Brun the Jew owes £400 of the fine he made with the King at his transfretation; but they ought to be required from Aaron of Lincoln, and Ysáác, and Abraham, son of Rabbi, and Ysáác of Colchester, his sureties, who have acknowledged that they received those £400 from his chattels.—28 Hen. II., Lond. and Midd.

Benedict, brother of Aaron, renders count of £6 for one mark of gold, to have in peace his mortgage of Barewe (i.e., Barrow).  Abraham, son of Aaron, owes £6 for one mark of gold to have his debts (settled).—29 Hen. II., Linc.

Brun the Jew renders count of £1,000 out of the 2,000 marks of the fine he made with the King, and of which Aaron of Lincoln has to answer for 500 marks.—30 Hen. II., Lond.

The following again looks suspiciously like a bit of Jewish sharp practice:—Jacob, sister’s son of Aaron, and Benedict his son, owe one mark of gold, because they kept back the charters of Benedict of the Bail, which had been acquitted.—31 Hen. II., Linc.

Accordingly, as a succeeding entry, we find that:—Benedict of the Bail owes 4 bezants, for him, and for fat Manasses, and Vives son of Deulcresse, and Josoe, son of Samuel, to have p. 124their charters from Benedict, son of Jacob, and from Jacob, sister’s son of Aaron.—31 Hen. II., Linc.

But, after all, honesty is the best policy, as shewn in the result of crafty dealing, in the following:—Benedict, son of Aaron, owes 20 marks for right to £4 8s. 8d., against Meus the Jew of Lincoln; where Benedict has to pay more than three times the amount of the debt to obtain it.

The following seems to point to a playful practical joke:—Jacob, Aaron’s sister’s son, renders count of 20 marks, for an amerciament, for taking off a priest’s cap, and for the deed of Gerard de Sailby.—33 Hen. II., Linc.

Aaron Jew, of Lincoln, Abraham son of Rabbi, and Isaac of Colchester, owe £400 of the chattels of Brun the Jew, which they received in old money, of the fine which he made with the King at his crossing over the straits (otherwise called his “transfretation”).—1 Ric. I., Lond. and Weston.

Of the debts of Aaron of Lincoln, 430 are named, amounting to about £1,500, a very large sum in those days.—Rolls, 3–5 Ric. I.

Here again we have a case of Jewish trickery:—Ursell, son of Pulcella, owes 5 marks because he did not give up to Ysaac his debt, and Matathias the Jew owes half a mark because he has confessed what he previously denied.—3 Ric. I., Linc.

In the time of Richard I. anti-semitic feeling ran high.  In a Roll, 3 Ric. I., Chent (Kent), we find:—The town of Ospringe owes 20 marks because it did not make a hue and cry for a slain Jew.  In another, 4 Ric. I., we find:—Richard Malebysse renders count for 20 marks, for having his land again, which had been seized in the hand of the king on account of the slaughter of Jews at York.  William de Percy, Knight, Roger de Ripun, and Alan Malekuke owe 5 marks for the same.  In Lincoln, however, it has been generally supposed that the Jews escaped violent treatment, but in a Roll, 3 Ric. I., Linc., there is a list of 80 names of men of the city fined, as “amerciament for assault on the Jews.”

There are several more mentions of transactions of Lincoln Jews, but these will suffice.—“Archæol. Review,” Vol. ii., No. vi., pp. 398–410.

There were at one time 52 churches in Lincoln besides the Cathedral; now they number 15.  There were also in the city 14 monasteries.  Honorius, the fifth Archbishop of Canterbury, p. 125was consecrated by Paulinus in Lincoln, in 627.

Services in some of the churches have been held somewhat irregularly even in this cathedral city, for in answer to queries from the Bishop in 1743, it was found that in St. Bennet’s there was divine service once a month, and twice on the greater festivals.  St. Mark’s had services on the three greater festivals, and four times a year besides.  St. Martin’s had services four or five times a year, St. Mary le Wigford once every Sunday.  An epitaph in the churchyard of the last-named church, on an old tombstone, a specimen of Lindocolline wit, runs as follows:—

Here lies one—believe it, if you can—
Who, though an attorney, was an honest man. [125]

We have only to add that when Remigius of Fecamp, the first Norman Bishop, presided over the See of Lincoln, his diocese was far the largest in England, extending from the Humber to the Thames, and embracing no less than eight counties.  It was reduced to something like its present dimensions on the appointment of Bishop Kaye in 1827; except that, since then, a portion has been taken off and included in the new Diocese of Southwell.  Truly our bishops were princes in those olden times.

Yet, interesting as Lincoln is, to the archæologist one thing is lacking, viz., a fitting museum, wherein to bring together, tabulate, and conserve the many precious relics of the past, which are now scattered about in private hands, and liable to all sorts of accidents.  When we visit such collections as those in the museums at Newcastle or Nottingham—even the limited and crowded, but very interesting, one at Peterborough, and, above all the very fine collection (especially of Roman antiquities) at York—we are tempted to exclaim, with a sigh of regret, “O! si sic omnes!”  At Lincoln, colossal fortunes have been, made in the old “staple city,” now vastly grown, and growing, in its trade; will not some one, or more, of her wealthy sons come forward, and build, and endow, a museum worthy of the place, and while there are yet so many priceless treasures available to enrich it?  The Corporation, indeed, have, in the year of grace 1904, commenced at last a movement toward establishing a county museum, but no site is yet secured for it.  A few objects, chiefly of Natural History, are already placed for safety in the Castle, till better accommodation can be provided.

p. 126We now return to some remains, possessing considerable antiquarian interest, in our neighbourhood, within easy reach for the visitor to Woodhall Spa, and belonging to a period later than that of the Briton, or Roman, or even the Saxon and the Dane; when, as the poet says:—

Another language spread from coast to coast,
Only perchance some melancholy stream,
Or some indignant hills old names preserve,
When laws, and creeds, and people, all are lost.

The name Woodhall implies the existence, at one time, of a hall in a wood, and that of sufficient importance to give its name to the whole demesne. [126a]  Of such a building we have the traces.

The reader of these pages will have learnt that Woodhall Spa is but a modern creation, in what was, not long ago, an outlying corner of the parish from which it gets its name.  The original village of Woodhall, comprising a few scattered farmhouses and cottages near the church, is distant some four miles from the Spa.  The church will be more fully described in another chapter; it is here merely referred to as a landmark in connection with this “hall.”  Immediately adjoining the churchyard, on the south and south-east, are a farmhouse and buildings of no great age; but directly south of these, and within 150 yards of the church, is the site of the ancient Wood-Hall.  There is the hollow of a former moat, enclosing an area of about 120 feet by 90 feet, and beyond this can be traced the channel of a dike, which would seem to have connected the moat with a small, but limpid, stream, [126b] locally called, by the Norse term, “beck,” which rises in the gravel, some mile and a half distant eastward, in the parish of Thornton, not far from Langton hill; and which, passing Woodhall, finds its way, by Poolham and Stixwould, into the Witham.  Covering a space of some two acres, there are mounds, beneath which, doubtless, was the debris of what must, in their day, have been extensive buildings.  They are dotted about with p. 127gnarled hawthorns of considerable antiquity; but otherwise the wood is now conspicuous only by its absence.

Mr. Denton says (“England in the 15th Century,” p. 252, Bell & Sons, 1888), “the ancient hall or manor house was usually moated for the purpose of defence,” in times which were apt to be lawless; and in the case of the “Moated Grange” connected with a greater religious house, there was the further advantage of the ready supply of fish for the restricted diet of the monks, amongst whom, except for sick members, animal food was prohibited.

I have said that the Wood-Hall, or Hall in the Wood, must have been sufficiently important to give its name to the demesne.  It may be doubted, however, whether the name Woodhall has always applied to the whole parish, now so called.  In Camden’s “Britannia,” written about 1586, Gibson’s Edition being 1695, although the names of all the adjoining parishes appear in his map, that of Woodhall is absent, [127] and in its place we find “Buckland.”  This latter name still survives in “Buckland lane,” given in the Award Map, in the north of the parish, and near to which, within the writer’s memory, there remained a tract of waste, and wild woodland.  This name, therefore, is interesting, as indicating the former presence of the wild deer in our neighbourhood.  It is, as it were, the still uneffaced “slot” of the roaming stag,—a footprint in the sand of time, still visible.  And, since this Buckland lane leads to nowhere beyond itself, we may well imagine it to have been a sort of cul-de-sac, a sylvan retreat, in which especially the antlered herds did congregate from the larger wood of the Manor Hall; and, in connection with this, we may notice that, not far from this lane, there still remain two woods, named Dar-wood, which may be taken, by an easy transition, to represent Deer-wood; further indicating the wild forest character of the demesne.  Buckland lane terminates at a small enclosure, now known, for some unrecorded reason, as “America,” the sole plot of land, besides the churchyard, remaining in the parish attached to the church.  The modern incumbent may indulge his fancy by supposing that, notwithstanding p. 128the strict monastic rule, this bit of church land may, in the olden day, occasionally have furnished a “fatte buck” for the table of the lordly Abbot of Kirkstead. [128a]  In the Liber Regis, or King’s Book, issued by Commissioners under Henry VIII., the benefice is called Wood Hall; but it would seem, from what has been given above, that it was not until a later period that the whole Civil Parish became known by that name.  There is nothing to show who were the occupants of this Wood Hall, but, until the Reformation, they probably held it in fee from the Abbots of Kirkstead.  One little evidence of the connection with the great religious house survived, till within the last few years, in the Holy Thistle (Carduus Marianus), which grew in an adjoining field, as it also did about the ruin of Kirkstead Abbey, but it is now, it is believed, extinct.  The monks found an innocent recreation in gardening, but they are gone, and even their plants have followed them.

In this same parish, and within two miles of this old Wood Hall, are the traces of another similar ancient establishment, viz., High-hall.  We have already stated that Brito, son of Eudo, the Norman Baron of Tattershall, gave to the Abbots of Kirkstead two portions of the parish of Woodhall, which would seem to imply that he retained the third portion for himself. [128b]  In that case this residence of the superior Lord of the Manor might naturally be distinguished from the Wood Hall by the title of the High Hall; and the traces of it which remain indicate that it was on a larger scale than the former.  The position is in the second field northward from the road called “‘Sandy lane,” which is the boundary between the Woodhall Spa Civil district and Old Woodhall, and just outside, westward, the present High-hall Wood, which p. 129formerly extended further than it now does, so as completely to shelter this hall from the north and east.  There are traces of three moated enclosures, from 70 yards to 100 yards in length east and west, and from 40 yards to 60 yards in width, covering an area of some three acres.  Here, also, as at Woodhall, the moats, for the sake of fresh water, are connected by a channel with a running stream near at hand, though now at this point only small, named Reed’s Beck, which rises within the High-Hall Wood.

At what date this old Hall fell into decay we have no means of knowing.  The turf which now covers its foundations has at some time been levelled, and beyond slight indications of walls in the central of the three enclosures, the moats alone survive to shew its extent.  The writer is in possession of an interesting relic, an old pistol of curious workmanship, which was found near the place by Mr. Atkinson, of the farm adjoining, in digging a ditch.  The peculiar make of the weapon would seem to indicate that it was of the date of about Charles I.; [129] in which case we may suppose that the Hall was at that time occupied as a residence, and the pistol, being of French manufacture and rather handsomely chased, may have belonged to the wealthy occupant of the mansion; or, perhaps more likely, may have been part of the accoutrements of a cavalier of rank in the Royalist army, which, after their defeat at the battle of Winceby, near Horncastle, Oct. 11, 1643, was dispersed over the whole of this neighbourhood; and a fugitive officer may have sought shelter and hospitality at the High-Hall.

It is not a little remarkable that there should have been these two Halls, so near to each other and within the one parish; but they represent to us the lay, and the ecclesiastical, powers that were.

p. 130There were, also, other large, moated, ancient residences in our immediate neighbourhood, but in this chapter I confine myself to the two situated in Woodhall.  The others will claim attention hereafter.

p. 131CHAPTER IX.  ARCHÆOLOGY—continued.

It was stated in the preceding chapter, that, besides the two ancient moated mansions in the parish of Woodhall, there described, there are other remains of a like character in our immediate neighbourhood.  I will first mention a residence, the site of which I have not been able definitely to fix, but it would probably be somewhere near the Manor House of Woodhall Spa.  I have before me a copy of a will preserved at the Probate Office, Lincoln, [131] which begins thus:—“The 6th of Dec., 1608, I, Edmund Sherard of Bracken-End, in the parish of Woodhall, and county of Lincoln, gente., sicke in bodye, but of perfect memorie, do will,” &c.  We may pause here to notice that the name “Bracken-End” would seem to imply that the residence stood at an extreme point of what is now “Bracken” wood, and, as the position would naturally be viewed in its geographical relation to the centre of the parish, either to the Woodhall by the parish church, or to the manorial High Hall, this point, we may assume, would be on the far, or south, side of Bracken wood, as the present Manor House is.  In a similar manner a row of houses in Kirkstead, from their outlying situation, are called “Town-end.”  In an old document, in Latin (Reg. III., D. & C.D. 153), mention is made of “Willelmus Howeson de Howeson-end”; and the residence of Lord Braybrooke, in Cambridgeshire, is named Audley End.  There are known to have been a succession of buildings on the site of the present Woodhall Manor House, and we can hardly doubt that the residence here referred to as “Bracken-end” also stood there.

The will is of further interest as shewing the testator’s connection and dealings with members of families of position once, or still, well known in the neighbourhood or county.

p. 132His first bequest is (that which is the common lot of us all) “my bodye to the earth whence it came.”  He then goes on to bequeath certain sums “To Susanna my weif . . .  To Elizabeth Sherard my daughter . . .  To my sonne Robert . . .  To the child my weif is conceaved with . . .  The portions to be payde when my son Robert is xxj. years of age, and my daughters’ portions when they are xx., or shall marrie.  My executur to keepe and maintaine my children,” &c.  He then wills that, in accordance with “an arbitrament between Sir John Meares, of Awbrowy (Aukborough), in the county of Lincoln, knight,” and another, “with the consent of Willm. Sherard, of Lope-thorpe, in the parish of North Witham, knight, on the one partie, and I, the said Edmund Sherard, of the other partie . . . that the said William Sherard shall be accomptable . . . every yeare, of the goods and chattles of John Sherard, late of Lincoln, gent., deceased” . . . and, “I desire my said brother William Sherard, knight, . . . that he should discharge the same accordinglie to the benefit of my weif and children.  Item, that Robert Thomson, my Father-in-law, shall have all my sheepe in Bracken End, which I bought of him, and owe for only fourty of them; that he shall paye to my wief for them vs. iiijd. (5s. 4d.) apeece.”  He then mentions as “debts dewe”:—“John Ingrum of Bucknall for sheepe of lord Willoughbie xijli.; Edward Skipwith of Ketsby, gent, for lx. sheep xxvvijli.; and if he refuse the sheepe, to pay to my executrix xls., which the Testator payde for sommering them: Edward Skipwith to be accomptable for the wool of the sayde sheepe for this last year, but (i.e., except) for vli. he hath payde in parts thereof.”  “The Lord Clinton oweth for 1000 kiddes.  Thomas Brownloe, servant of lord Willoughbie of Knaith, oweth for monev lent him, lvs.”—Prob. at Lincoln 9 Jan. 1608–9.

On these various items we may remark that, from the figures here given, 60 sheep cost 27 pounds, or 9 shillings each, of the money of that date, and for the “sommering” of them was paid 8d. each.  In the first case his father-in-law was only able to pay 5s. 4d. each, because the testator still owed him for 40 of them.

The Lord Clinton named as owing for “1000 kiddes” would at that time be residing at Tattershall Castle, which was one of his principal residences, Sempringham being another (Camden’s “Britannia,” p. 478).  We here have the thoroughly Lincolnshire word p. 133”kid” for faggot. [133]  The name “Lope-thorpe” for the residence of the testator’s brother, Sir William Sherard, is a variation from Lobthorpe.  A moat and fish ponds still mark the site of Lobthorpe Hall in North Witham, and there are several monuments in the church of Sir Brownlow Sherard and other members of the family.  As there is no mention of the burial of this Edmund Sherard, Gent., of Bracken-end, in the Woodhall parish register, he was doubtless also interred at North Witham.

The “Sir John Meares of Aukborough” mentioned as a party to the “arbitrament” was a member of a very old Lincolnshire family, whose chief seat was Kirton near Boston, Sir John being lord of that manor; and there are several monuments of the family in the church there.  Sir Thomas Meares, of Meres, was M.P. for Lincoln in eleven Parliaments, and was knighted at Whitehall in 1660 by Charles II.; and another Thomas Meeres was Member for the county in three Parlaiments temp. Henry VI.  The “Edward Skipwith, of Ketsby, Gent.,” also mentioned, is again a scion of one of our very old county families, their chief seat in this neighbourhood having been South Ormsby, to which Ketsby is attached.  The church there has a brass of Sir William Skipwith, Knight, his wife (who was a Dymoke) and children.  Among the “Lincolnshire Gentry” of 1634 p. 134named in a list preserved in the library of the Herald’s College, are Robert Sherard of Gautby, and John Sherard; Robert Meeres of Kirton, and Anthony Meeres of Bonby; Edward Skipwith of Legbourne, Edward Skipwith of Grantham, and Samuel Skipwith of Utterby.

In the person, then, of this former squire of Bracken-end in Woodhall, we have an individual belonging to a family of knightly rank, his friends being members of some of our oldest county aristocracy, and his transactions connected with such Lords paramount as the Baron Willoughby of Knaith and Lord Clinton of Tattershall.  I may add that the family is now represented by Lord Sherard of Leitrim, in the Peerage of Ireland, who is connected by marriage with the Reeves of Leadenham, the Whichcotes, and other good Lincolnshire families.

I now proceed to mention a few more of the ancient moated mansions in our neighbourhood.  It was mentioned in the last chapter that, besides two portions of the land of the parish of Woodhall being given by Baron Brito, son of Eudo of Tattershall, to the Abbey of Kirkstead, the rectory of that benefice was also in the gift of the Abbot.  In like manner the Abbot held lands in Thimbleby, erected a gallows there on which, at different times, several persons were hanged; and he owned the advowson of that benefice; and the present rectory house of that parish, built about 1840, stands on the site of a former residence, which was guarded by a moat.  Within this enclosure there is still an ancient well, lined with Spilsby sandstone, of which the church, like most in the neighbourhood, is also built.  This well has been said to be “Roman,” [134] but, without venturing to give it so early a date, we may, perhaps, safely say that it belonged to the lesser religious house formerly there existing, as a dependency of the Abbey of Kirkstead.  There was, however, a Roman well found a few years ago, at Horncastle, within the old Roman castle walls, at the spot where the National Schools now stand.  Similarly, the Abbot of Kirkstead was patron of the benefice of Wispington, another neighbouring parish, by the gift (about 1400) of another and later descendant of Eudo of Tattershall, who owned p. 135a moiety of this parish, the Bishop of Durham holding the other moiety; and, accordingly, here again there are extensive moats, ponds, and mounds, indicating a former large, and strongly protected, residence.  Portions of this still form parts of a farmhouse (Mr. Evison’s), and the farm buildings on the same premises, as well as of those now occupied by Mr. Gaunt, whose very name carries us back to the days of the great Norman magnate, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, scarcely less powerful than his ancestor, Gilbert de Gaunt, to whom the Conqueror gave no less than 113 manors; but to John belonged the peculiar distinction of being father of Henry IV., the only sovereign born in our county.  This mansion was for some generations the property of a family of substance, named Phillips.  The head of this family, in the reign of Elizabeth, is mentioned among those patriotic individuals who subscribed his £25 towards the cost of the Fleet which was intended to repel the Spanish Armada.  One of this family, Phillips Glover, who was sheriff for the county in 1727, had a daughter Laura, who married Mr. Robert Vyner, of Eathorpe, Warwickshire, whose family are now amongst our greatest landowners, and draw an almost princely revenue from the Liverpool docks.

We now pass on to another neighbouring moated mansion.  About 2½ miles from Woodhall Spa to the east, and only separated from Woodhall parish by a green lane, is White-Hall wood; on the opposite, northern, side of this lane being the High-Hall wood, already mentioned.  Both these woods take their names from the old residences contiguous to them.  The visitor to Woodhall Spa, if a pedestrian, leaving the road from Woodhall Spa to Horncastle, in that part of it called “Short lane,” because it is so long; after passing the two small woods, called Roughton Scrubs, on his right hand, and just before reaching the slight ascent near Martin bridge, may take to a cart-track, on the left or north side of the road, through a wood, crossing the railway, which here runs almost close to the road; pursuing this track through the wood some 200 yards, and then, turning slightly to the left in a north-westerly direction through two small grass fields, he will find, in an angle on the north side of the wood, a moated enclosure, between 75 and 80 yards square, shewing slight irregularities of the ground, on its northern side, indicating the site of a former building.  Outside the moat are p. 136traces of another enclosure; a large depression shews where there was probably a “stew pond” for carp and tench; and the channel of a dyke is seen running north-west till it joins a small ditch, which may probably, at one time, have been a feeder to one of two streams already mentioned as being near the High Hall remains, and named “Odd’s beck.”  I may say here, once for all, that the moats and ponds of these large establishments were a matter of considerable importance and care.  They were protected from injury by the Acts, 3 Ed. I. and 5 Eliz., c. 21 (Treatise on Old Game Laws, 1725).  “The fish-stews were scientifically cultivated, and so arranged that they could be drained at will.  When the water was run off from one, the fish were transferred to the next.  Oats, barley, and rye grass were then grown in it; when these were reaped it was re-stocked with fish.  The ponds were thus sweetened and a supply of food introduced; suitable weeds were also grown on the margin, and each pond, or moat, was treated in the same way in rotation.”—“Nature and Woodcraft,” by J. Watson.

Nothing now exists of this former mansion above ground, but the moats and mounds cover an area of more than two acres, shewing that it was a large residence.  It is in Martin parish.  Within the writer’s recollection there were marigolds and other flowers still growing about the spot, survivals from the quondam hall garth, or garden.  This was the home of a branch of the Fynes, or Fiennes Clinton, family, whose head, Edward, Lord Clinton and Saye, Lord High Admiral of England, was created Earl of Lincoln by Queen Elizabeth in 1572; the present head of the family being the Duke of Newcastle, whose creation dates from 1756.

The connection of this great family with our neighbourhood came about in this wise.  The line of Lord Treasurer Cromwell having become extinct, Henry VII., in 1487, granted the manor and other estates to his mother, Margaret, Countess of Richmond, and in the following year entailed them on the Duke of Richmond.  The Duke died without issue; and Henry VIII., in 1520, granted them to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk.  On the death of the two infant sons of the Duke, surviving their father only a short time, the estates again reverted to the Sovereign; and in 1551 Edwd. VI. granted them to Edward Lord Clinton and Saye, afterwards, as we have said, Earl of Lincoln.  These estates included that of the dissolved Abbey of Kirkstead, and other properties in this neighbourhood; p. 137and among them the White Hall and its appurtenances.  When the earldom of Lincoln, through a marriage, became absorbed in the Dukedom of Newcastle, several of these estates remained with junior branches of the Clinton, or Fiennes, family.  Of the particular branch residing at White Hall, probably the most distinguished member was one whose monumental tablet is still in Roughton church; the ministrations of which church they would seem, judging by entries in the registers, to have attended, in preference to the church of Martin, in which parish the estate was situated.  The lengthy inscription on this tablet is as follows:—“Here lies the body of Norreys Fynes, Esq., Grandson to Sir Henry Clinton, commonly called Fynes, eldest son of Henry Earl of Lincoln, by his Second Wife, Daughter of Sir Richard Morrison, and Mother of Francis Lord Norreys, afterwards Earl of Berkshire.  He had by his much-beloved and only Wife Elizabeth, who lies by him, Twelve children, of which Four Sons and Two Daughters were living at his decease, which happened on the 10th of January 1735–6 in the 75th year of his age.  From the Revolution he always liv’d a Non-juror, [137] which rendered him incapable of any other Publick Employment (tho’ by his Great Ability and Known Courage equal to the most Difficult and Dangerous) than that of being Steward to two great Familys, wherein he distinguish’d himself during his service of 40 year a most Faithful and Prudent manager, of a most Virtuous and Religious Life.  His paternal estate he left without any addition to his son Kendal his next heir.  His eldest son Charles was buried here p. 138the 26th August 1722, aged 36 years, whose Pleasant Disposition adorn’d by many virtues which he acquired by his Studys in Oxford made his death much lamented by all his Acquaintance.”  Possibly, as being a Non-juror, he may have thought it best not to attend public worship in his own parish church at Martin, and so have gone, with his family, to the church of Roughton, where, as an “outener,” he would be asked no questions.  I find in connection with his family the following notices in the Roughton Registers, the spelling of which would certainly shew that the writer was not a “Beauclerk”:—“1722 Mr. Charles fines burried Augst ye 26. 1722”; “Madame Elizabeth fines was buered May ye 29, 1730”  This was the “only and much loved wife” of Norreys Fynes, and the title “Madame” was a recognition of her superior rank.  “Norreys Fynes Esq. was buried ye 10th January 1736/7”  This entry was evidently so correctly made by the Rector himself; as also was probably the next one, “Dormer Fynes ye sonn of Kendall Fynes Esq. and Frances his wife was baptized Nov. 10. 1737.”  “Cendal (Kendal) fins, the son of Norreys fins was buried June the twenty foorst, 1740.”  (Note the Lincolnshire pronunciation “foorst”).  “Francis Fynes, widow of Kendall Fynes buried May 13. 1752.”

I mentioned in a previous chapter the very bad condition of the roads about here; and there is a still lingering tradition that the last of the Fynes residing at White Hall used to drive about in a waggon drawn by bullocks.  This estate, with some other land, of which the writer has been “shooting tenant” for more than a score of years, is still in the hands of “the Fiennes Clinton Trustees”; but there are Fynes, still in the flesh, living in our midst at Woodhall, who, though treading a humbler walk in life, are not altogether unworthy of their high ancestry. [138]

There is another old moated residence, of considerable historic interest, which next claims our attention.  Within a mile westward of the Wood Hall, by the church, and closely contiguous to the north-west boundary of the Woodhall estate, stands Poolham Hall, an old-fashioned, but p. 139comfortable and substantially-built, stucco-coated and slated farmhouse.  It now, along with the small manor, belongs to Dr. Byron, residing in London, who bought it a few years ago from Mr. Christopher Turnor, of Stoke Rochford and Panton Hall, in this county.  At the back of the Hall, at the south-west corner of what is now the kitchen garden, and close to the enclosing moat, are the remains of a small chapel, consisting of an end wall and part of a side wall, each with a narrow window; there are fragments of larger stones bearing traces of sculpture, and, within recollection, there was also a tombstone with the date 1527, and a font. [139]  The house was, doubtless, formerly much larger than it is now.  Like the other similar residences which I have described, Poolham Hall has close by it a running stream, called Monk’s dyke, which unites with some of the other becks already named, and ultimately flows into the Witham.  The chief interest in this old place lies in the distant past; it has gone through a varied series of vicissitudes, and witnessed some stirring scenes.  Weir, in his “History of Horncastle” (ed. 1820, p. 58), under the head of Edlington, says briefly of Poolham, “anciently called Polum, it formed part of the Barony of Gilbert de Gaunt, until about the 35th year of Edward I., when Robert de Barkeworth died seised of it; and it appears to have been the residence of Walter de Barkeworth, who died in 1374, and was buried in the cloister of Lincoln Cathedral.  Afterwards it was the residence of the family of Thimbleby, a branch of the Thimblebys of Irnham, who probably built the present house about the time of Henry VIII.  In the reign of Elizabeth the Saviles of Howley possessed it; and in 1600 Sir John Savile, Knight, sold it to George Bolles, citizen of London, whose descendant, Sir John Bolles, Baronet, conveyed it to Sir Edmund Turnor, Knight, of Stoke Rochford.”  Of the above families, I have not been able to find very much about the Barkworths, who took their name p. 140doubtless from East Barkwith, where they had property.  But Gocelyn de Barkworth, and after him William de Barkworth, are named in an Assize Roll (4 Ed. II., 1311) as having possessions in Tetford.  In 3 Ed. III. (a.d. 1329), William de Barkworth and his wife “fflorianora” were plaintiffs in a land dispute with Robert de Hanay and Alice his wife; whereby “1 messuage, 1 carucate of land, 9 acres of meadow, 1 acre of ‘more,’ and the moiety of 1 messuage and 1 mill, with appurtenances in Normanby, Claxby, and Ussylby, were quitclaimed to William and fflorianora, and fflorianora’s heirs.”  I may add, as to the item here named “1 mill,” that a mill in those days was a property of some value; all the dependents of the lord of the manor were obliged to have their corn, for man or beast, ground in it; and no other mill was allowed in the neighbourhood where one was already established.  It is recorded by Beckman that “a certain Abbot wished to erect a mill, which was objected to by a neighbouring proprietor, who contended that the wind of the whole district belonged to him.  The monks complained to the bishop, who gave them permission to build, affirming that the wind of the whole diocese was episcopal property.”  (Oliver’s “Rel., Houses,” p. 76 note 9.)  In 1351 William de Barkworth, “lord of Polume,” presented to the moiety of the chapelry (of Poolham); and in 1369 Thomas de Thymelby presented to it.  And from this time the Thimblebyes take the place of the Barkworths.  These Thimblebyes, whose name is variously spelt Thimelby, Thymbylbye, and even (as in Domesday Book) Stimblebi, and Stinblebi, were a numerous and influential race.  Their chief residence was Irnham Park, near Grantham, which was acquired about 1510 by Richard Thimbleby, on his marriage with the heiress of Godfrey Hilton, whose ancestor, Sir Geoffrey Hilton, Knight, had obtained it in 1419, by his marriage with an heiress of the Luterels, several of whom were called to Parliament, as Barons, in the 13th century.  This was one of fifteen manors given by William the Conqueror to Ralph Paganel; and with the heiress of his family it passed, by marriage, to Sir Andrew Luterel, Knight.  The Thymblebyes would seem to have taken their patronymic from the village of that name (part of which now forms a portion of the Woodhall Spa parish), as the earlier members of the family we find designated as Thomas de Thymelby.  Nicholas de Thymelby, and so forth.  Besides land in p. 141Thimbleby they owned many other estates.  For instance, in the Court of Wards Inquisitions (3, 4, and 5 Edward VI., vol. v., 91), we find that Matthew Thimbleby “of Polom,” who married Anne, daughter of Sir Robert Hussey, about 1521, died “seised of the manors of Polome, Farfford, Ruckelyond, Somersby, Parish-fee, in Horncastle, Edlynton, Thymylby, and Tydd St. Mary; also of lands in Horsyngton, Styxwolde, Blankney, Buckland (i.e. Woodhall), and Flette: and of the advowsons of Tetforde, Farefford, Rucklonde, and Somersbye.”  This Matthew Thimbleby’s wealthy “grass widow” married again, Sir Robert Savile, Knight, who (according to Chancery Inquisition, post mortem, 28 Eliz., 1st part, No. 116) “died seised of the manors of Poolham, Horsington, Stixwolde, Edlington, Tetford, Farforth, Somersby, and Ruckland.”

Before quitting the Thimblebyes, we have one more incident to name in connection with them.  In 1581, one of them, residing at Poolham, was imprisoned in Lincoln Castle for refusing to attend the new Reformed Services and Communion.  His wife greatly desired to see him, and was allowed her request by Thomas Cooper, Bishop of Lincoln.  She was near her confinement, but, as her name was among a list of those not favourable to the Reformation, she was treated rather roughly, and detained by force in her husband’s cell.  This brought on premature labour, and in the hour of her weakness she was denied the assistance of a matron.  It is said that a speedy death ended her sufferings; her husband also dying in prison.—“The Church under Elizabeth,” by Dr. F. G. Lee, vol. ii., p. 60.  It is further recorded of this same Bishop, that he summoned Sir Robert Dymoke to Lincoln for examination as to his supposed Papist tendencies, and on Sir Robert excusing himself on the score of ill health, the Bishop came in person to Scrivelsby and carried him forcibly to Lincoln, and cast him into prison, where he presently died.  It is not a little curious that one, who, as a doughty knight, at three coronations threw down his gauntlet and challenged the world on his Sovereign’s behalf, should have succumbed to a stiff-necked prelate.  The account of this is given in Lodge’s “Scrivelsby, the Home of the Champions,” pp. 77, 78.

We now come to the Saviles.  They were a wealthy and distinguished Yorkshire family, now represented by the Earls of Mexborough.  Sir Robert disposed of some of the property in p. 142this neighbourhood, which he had acquired by his marriage with the widow Thimbleby, but he retained Poolham, and made the Hall his headquarters. [142a]  The Saviles may have been hot-blooded, for they had not been located long at Poolham before they became embroiled with their neighbours.  The manners of the times were somewhat rough, and we here give a sample or two.  The autocrat of the neighbourhood at that time was Henry Fiennes Clinton, second Earl of Lincoln, who was apparently inclined to ride roughshod over everyone who came in his way; the object of his life seems to have been to quarrel, and to keep in a state of irritation the county from which he derived his title.  It is said that Denzil Hollis, “living much at Irby, used to confront the Earl of Lincoln, who was a great tyrant among the gentry of Lincolnshire, and to carry business against him, in spite of his teeth.” [142b]  But stout old Denzil died in 1590, and, this check withdrawn, the Earl’s conduct increased in violence. [142c]  Lodge, [142d] in his records, mentions one Roger Fullshaw of Waddingworth p. 143(near Horncastle), who, in 1596, prayed for protection against the most horrible outrages committed by the Earl, and says that his conduct savoured of insanity.  Before he succeeded to the earldom, and consequently when he had not yet so much power to oppress, he committed the following aggressions on the Saviles of Poolham.  We must premise that Sir Robert Savile, though a knight of good estate, and though his descendants became Earls of Sussex, was, nevertheless, a natural son of Sir Henry Savile, by Margaret Barkston, “his Ladie’s gentlewoman,” [143a] which, as will be seen, was not forgotten by the high-born Clinton.  These occurrences took place in 1578.  They were neighbours, and jealous of trespass; and, on the 13th of June, Lord Clinton, “with 7 men with cross-bowes and long-bowes bent,” forced himself into the parlour at Poolham Hall, and, after threatening words, struck Sheffield Savile, the son, on the head.  The elder Savile says that he prevented his son from noticing the outrage, an unusual degree of forbearance under the circumstances; but there had evidently been some previous misunderstanding, and possibly young Savile had been in the wrong.  On the 25th of June following, Lord Clinton, hearing Sir Robert’s hounds hunting in Mr. Welby’s wood, [143b] although it was no concern of his, seized five of them, and then sent a letter to Sir Robert, threatening that he would hang them before his house; and, in fact, did hang them, as Sir Robert says, “upon my own tree within my own ground.”

Another violent proceeding is described in a letter of the Earl’s friend.  Mr. Metham [143c] had been previously entertaining Lord Clinton at Metham, and was now on a return visit to Tattershall; and, as he relates, “It pleased him (Lord Clinton) to carrye me with my companye through his park (still surviving in the name “Tattershall park”) unto the chase, where his meaning was to have made sport with hounds p. 144and greyhounds (i.e., badger hounds), and leading me by, into the meadows, he shewed me certain of the great deer of the chase, such as he kept rather for show than to be hunted.”  These would be the red deer (cervus elaphus) still existing then on Hatfield chase, in the northwest of the county, in considerable numbers.  The deer broke away into Mr. Welby’s woods, and “thence, as my lord affirmed, with an oath, into the mouths of the Saviles.”  Lord Clinton’s attendants followed the hounds, Lord Clinton himself not doing so; but, in passing along a lane, he encountered some of the Savile followers, “in number 20 or 24, the more part having swords, bucklers, and daggers, some pyked staves, one a cross-bowe with an arrowe, another a long bowe and arrows.”  While words were being exchanged “ould Mr. Savile” came up, and the following characteristic dialogue ensued.  “My Lord Clinton, yf thou be a man, light, and fight with me.”  “With thee, bastardlye knave,” quoth my lord, “I will deal with thee well enough, and teach thee, knave, thy duty.”  Upon which words Mr. Savile called my lord “a cowardly knave.”  Challenges passed between them, and with Sheffield Savile, who, withdrawing, as he says, Lord Clinton by the arm, called out after him, “You a lord, you are a kitchen boy.”  Sir Robert, after their departure, having got hold of one of Lord Clinton’s dogs, meant, Metham says, “to use it with like courtesy as my lord has done his.”  Lord Clinton then approached Poolham Hall, and a challenge passed, through John Savile, to fight six to six, “which by good entreaty was stayed.”  Savile says, [144] in his narrative, that the followers of Lord Clinton were entertained at Horncastle, the same day, with a buck; and getting hold of an unfortunate tailor, some ten or twelve of them drew their swords and sore wounded him, saying he should “have that, and more, for his master’s sake, Mr. Sheffield Savile.”

The Lansdown MSS. give details of other violent proceedings of Lord Clinton towards the Saviles; how he over-ran the lands of Poolham with 60 men, armed with guns, cross-bows, and long bows; how he ill-treated their servants sent to Tattershall on domestic errands; incited the neighbours to send challenges to them; how he tried to entice into his park the younger Saviles, and laid ambushes for them; and various other proceedings which he would not for a moment p. 145have tolerated in anyone else.  It redounds, indeed, to the credit of the Saviles that Poolham was not made the scene of retaliation and bloodshed. [145]

In 1600 Sir John Savile sold Poolham to George Bolles, Esq.  Of the Bolles family I have been able to find but scanty mention.  Among Lincolnshire Gentry who supplied demy-lances and light horse, at the Louth Sessions, March, 1586–7, Charles Bolles is named as “Captaine,” furnishing “ij. horse”; and Richard Bolles “ij launces” and “ij horse”; while Richard Bowles, which is probably the same name, is mentioned along with Sir Willm. Skipwith, Mr. Willm. Fitzwilliam, and Mr. Andrewe Gedney, Sir William’s son-in-law, as the officials who presided at the “Spittle Sessions,” i.e., at Spittal in the Street, near Kirton in Lindsey.

The last of this family to occupy Poolham was Sir John Bolles, Bart., who conveyed it to Sir Edmund Turnor of Stoke Rochford.  Sir John Bolles is connected with the pretty and interesting legend and ballad of “The Green Lady of Thorpe Hall,” which was his chief residence.  The ballad is among Percy’s “Reliques,” and records how, while serving in Spain, the knight made captive a noble Spanish lady, who fell in love with her captor; but he had to check and chill her advances, in this language:—

“Courteous ladye, leave this fancy,
   Here comes all that breeds the strife;
I in England have already
   A sweet woman to my wife.”

To which, after craving pardon for her offence, she replies,

   “Commend me to thy lovely lady,
      Bear to her this chain of gold;
   And these bracelets for a token:
      Grieving that I was so bold.
All my jewels, in like sort, take thou with thee,
They are fitting for thy wife but not for me.”

The tradition, confirmed in recent years in correspondence by connections of the family (see notes to ballad, “The Spanish Lady’s Love,” vol. ii., p. 144, ed. 1848) affirms that, on Sir John leaving Spain for home, the lady “sent as presents to his wife, a profusion of jewellery and other valuables,” with a portrait of herself dressed in green.  Hence she was named “the Green Lady.”  It was said that she haunted Thorpe Hall, that her apparition was occasionally seen, and that it was long the custom p. 146to have a plate laid for her at this table at mealtime.  That this story does not belong entirely to the region of fiction is proved by the fact, known to the writer, and, doubtless, to many others, that a lady in this neighbourhood possesses, and at times wears on her person, one article from the “Green Lady’s” gift of jewellery.

We have one more moated mansion in our neighbourhood which should here be mentioned, viz., Halstead, or Hawstead, Hall, in the adjoining parish of Stixwould.  This is the one instance, out of the several old residences I have mentioned, in which there still remains a substantial building above-ground.  Doubtless the Hall, originally, was considerably larger than it is at present, since, at different periods, it has been occupied by members of leading county families; and I find, from a note, that the first Earl of Shaftesbury, who married a sister of Lord Coventry, at one time owner of Stixwould, used to visit here, and accommodation was found for himself and a large retinue.  Foundations of further buildings have been found at odd times.  The present Hall is a two-storied structure; the rooms not large, but lofty, their height on the ground floor being over 10ft., and on the upper floor more than 13ft.; with spacious attics above for stores.  The walls are very substantial, being 2½ft. thick; while the windows, with their massive Ancaster mullions, would further indicate a much larger building.  Outside the now dry bed of the moat stands a lofty building, at present used as stables and barn, which has stoneframed windows, the walls being of brick, smaller than the present-day bricks, and resembling those of Tattershall Castle and the Tower on the Moor, and, doubtless, made close at hand, where there is still a brickyard.  The walls are relieved by diamond-shaped patterns, of black brick, those in the upper part being smaller than those below. [146]  A very fine mantelpiece, formerly in Halstead Hall, is now at Denton House, near Grantham, the seat of Sir William Earle Welby Gregory, Bart., p. 147who is the present head of the family.  It is after the fashion of the famous mantelpieces of Tattershall Castle.  In recent times Halstead Hall has been chiefly known for the great robbery which occurred there on Feb. 2nd, 1829, and which has been related in Chapter II. of this volume.  But, though no connected account of its early owners or occupants can be given, some interesting details have been brought together by the Rev. J. A. Penny, Vicar of Wispington, and formerly of Stixwould, which are given, with a sketch of the Hall, in “Lincolnshire Notes & Queries” (vol. iii., pp. 33–37).  The estate was the property of Richard Welby of Moulton, being named in his will, 1465.  He left it to a son “Morys,” from whom it passed to a brother Roger, and from one of his sons came the Welbys of Halstead.  The will of one of them is preserved among the “Lincoln Wills (1st series) proved 18 August, 1524,” wherein he desired “to be buried in the Church of Stixwolde before the image of our Lady.”

In 1561, March 21, the representative of the Halstead branch of this one of our leading county families was granted the crest of “an armed arm, the hand charnell (i.e., flesh-coloured) yssvinge out of a cloud, azure, in a flame of fire”; and the arms are sable, a fess, between three fleur-de-lis, argent, with six quarterings.  He, Richard Welby, was in that year Sheriff for the county.

In 1588, Vincent Welby is named in the list of gentry who subscribed £25 each to the loan for repelling the expected Spanish Armada, and at the muster at Horncastle, in 1586–7, he furnished “ij horse,” as also did his relative Mr. Welby of Gouphill (Goxhill) at “Castor.”  The first entry of the Welbys in the Stixwould Registers was “Ann Welbie, christened May 28,” 1547; the last was in 1598.  After them Halstead Hall was owned by a family of the name of Evington, one of whom, Richard, left “iiijli xs to be paid yearlie, at the discretion of my executors, to the poor of Stixwolde, on the 25 March and 29 Sept.”  After them it was occupied by the Townshends.  Of this family there are two notices in the parish register:—“Mr. George Townshend Esqr died att Halstead and was buryed att Waddingworth on Wensdaie night the 13th of Februarie 1627.”  The other is, “Mr. Kirkland Snawden and Mrs. Francis Townshend married the 25th of December, being Christmas daie 1628.”  Notice the Lincolnshire pronunciation Snawden for Snowden.  No reason is given for the unusual burial by night; and special p. 148attention is drawn to the marriage of the widow, by the sketch in the margin of a hand with outstretched fingers.  This Kirkland Snowden was a grandson of a Bishop of Carlisle, his father being the Bishop’s son, and Vicar of Horncastle.  They had a daughter Abigail, who married a Dymoke, from whom the present Dymokes are descended.  This is one of two instances of a daughter of a Vicar of Horncastle marrying a Dymoke, since in the present century Miss Madeley, the only daughter of Dr. Clement Madeley, Vicar, married the late champion, Rev. John Dymoke.  After these it was held by the Gibbons, of which family there are also a few entries in the registers.  Another owner was Sir John Coventry, who was assaulted for using offensive language about King Charles II., asking in Parliament “whether the king’s pleasure lay in the men or women players” at the theatres.  He wounded several of his assailants, but had his own nose cut to the bone; in consequence of which “The Coventry Act” was passed in 1671, making it felony to maim or disfigure a person, and refusing to allow the king to pardon the offenders.  A later owner was Sir William Kite, Bart., who ran through a large fortune, and sold Halstead and Stixwould to Lord Anson, the distinguished navigator, and Lord High Admiral of England; some of whose exploits are recorded in “Anson’s Voyage Round the World,” by Benjamin Robins.  In 1778 the property was sold to Edmund Turnor, Esq., and is still held by his descendants.  This old house is well worth a visit; and visitors are courteously received by the family who now reside there.

I now propose to invite the visitor to Woodhall Spa to accompany me in thought (as not a few have done in person) to some of the places of interest, churches, or ruins, in the neighbourhood, as it may add a zest to his perambulations to know something about them.  The descriptions will probably be brief, leaving a margin to be filled in by his own personal observation, thus affording him a motive for further enquiry, and an aim and object for the rambles, which may conduce to his health in the expansion alike of mind and of lung.  Woodhall does not lie within what may be called the architectural zone of Lincolnshire.  In the south, south-east, and south-west of the county, parish after parish possesses a large church, often beyond the requirements of the population, and of great and varied architectural beauty.  There is probably no district in England so rich in fine p. 149edifices.  Much of the land was at one time held by powerful Norman knights and barons, whose energies were often spent in internecine feuds.  The mediæval creed impressed them with the belief that their deeds of violence could be atoned for by the erection of costly churches for the worship, by others, of that God whom they themselves little honoured.  Interested ecclesiastics fostered this feeling, [149a] which also fell in with the “Ora pro nobis” yearning of their own breasts, when suffering from what an old writer has called “the ayen-bite of Inwyt,” [149b] or, in modern parlance, “remorse of conscience.”  But if, judged by the scale of expiation, made in endowment and embodied in stone, these high-handed lords would seem to have been sinners above their more ordinary fellows, we must at least gratefully allow that they have left to us of the present day a goodly heritage, which even our modern vastly increased wealth has not enabled us to emulate.  These fine churches, in p. 150our neighbourhood may be said to terminate at Coningsby and Tattershall.

In the villages immediately near us, and for several miles northward and eastward, the churches are small; yet several of them have features of considerable interest.  Let us turn our steps northward.  The road takes us in sight of a column, or obelisk, surmounted by a bust of the first Duke of Wellington.  The history of this is told by the inscription on the pedestal: “Waterloo Wood was raised from acorns sown immediately after the memorable battle of Waterloo, when victory was achieved by the great Captain of the age, his Grace the Duke of Wellington, commanding the British forces, against the French armies commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte, the 18th June, 1815, which momentous victory gave general peace to Europe.  This monument was erected by R. E. (Richard Elmhirst) 1844.”  The bust faces to the north-east, in the direction of West Ashby, where Colonel Elmhirst resided.  The property some years ago passed, by sale, into other hands.  At about three miles distance from Woodhall we reach the small but well-built village of Stixwould (in Domesday Book, Stigesuuald, Stigeswalt, Stigeswalde).  As to the name Stixwould, anyone, without being a wag, might well say, and with some apparent reason, “What more natural combination than these two syllables?”  We naturally, in primitive life, go to the “wald,” or wood, for our sticks.  Was not the liberty to gather “kindling,” as we now call it, a valued privilege, even like the parallel right of “turbage”—to cut peat—for the domestic hearth?  The “sticks-wood” would be the resort of many a serf and villain, for purposes lawful, or the reverse.  But, unfortunately, the most apparently obvious explanation is not necessarily the correct one.  Whether the first part of this name has a reference to a staked-out ford on the Witham, corresponding to the “wath,” or ford, at Kirkstead, or whether it is from the old Norse “stigt,” a path, as some suggest, is uncertain.  Streatfeild says, “The swampy locality would favour the idea of ‘stakes’” (“Lincolnshire and the Danes,” pp. 147–8).  I may here notice that the old name of Dublin (Dubh-lynn, i.e. the black water) was Athcleath, or “the ford of the hurdles,” which seems a parallel instance (“The Vikings of Western Christendom,” by C. F. Keary, p. 83, n. 3).  The latter half of the name would seem to refer to the woods of the district; and p. 151visitors may see a very fine specimen of an ancient oak in the garden of the Abbey Farm at the farther end of the village; also a fine one at Halstead Hall, to the east of the village; and there are several more in the fields, relics, doubtless, of ancient woods.  The church was rebuilt in 1831, not a favourable period in church restoration, but on the whole Mr. Padley, the architect, did his work fairly well, although some spoliation was perpetrated, stained glass being taken away from the windows; and the panels of the pulpit in Lea church are said to have been also taken from here.  Some notes, still preserved in vol. ii. (p. 87) of Willson’s Collection (architect and surveyor, of Lincoln) would seem to imply that the former church was finer than the present.  He says, “Stixwould church, spacious, and has been elegant, and is full of curious remnants; style Ed. IV. or Henry VII.; tower very handsome; . . .  The interior has been very beautiful—lofty pointed arches, roof of nave and south aisle supported on rich carved figures of angels with shields; windows full of remnants of beautiful glass; old oak desks and benches carved . . . curious font . . . upper end of south aisle inclosed in two screens of oak . . . exquisitely rich and elegant.  This is called the little choir, and belongs to Halstead Hall . . . both aisles have had altars.  Base and pillar of churchyard cross remain.”  He also mentions a curiously-carved stone in the churchyard in front of the tower, “like a clock face,” with unusual inscription; which the present writer has also seen there; but it is now removed to Lincoln. [151a]

The Rev. J. A. Penny, formerly Vicar of Stixwould, furnished the following description of the present church, when the writer, as local honorary secretary, conducted the “Lincoln and Notts. Architectural Society” round the neighbourhood in 1894:—“The figures and pinnacles on the tower are from the old tower; the choir screen was formed from that formerly round the small choir, but only one-third of the original, [151b] which was used as a pew by the p. 152tenants of Halstead Hall.  Under the stone slab nearest the screen, in the nave, were deposited the remains of a Mr. Boulton, who stabbed his mother to death in the little chapel outside the Priory gate, for which he was hanged at Lincoln.  The stone face and wooden angels are from the former church, as also the bench ends on the south side.  The royal arms, with date 1662, are in a wall in the Abbey farmhouse; and the holy water stoup is under the pump in the school yard.  The fine slab, with cross, now under the tower, was dug up on the site of the Priory, also the stone coffin which stands there; and the rest in the vicarage garden.  One of the bells is exactly the same as that in the Guildhall at Lincoln, and dates from 1370; it is dedicated to St. Katine, with foundry mark (Nottingham), founder’s initials, and merchant’s mark.  The font is octagonal, with evangelic emblems, and names, on four sides; on the other sides, a monk seated in a chair and holding Y in his arms; next a man with arms akimbo, facing due east; next a monk, or Friar; and next a figure in flab cap, with sword, holding a rose in his left hand, his right resting on his belt.  These four figures come between the emblems of St. Mark and St. Luke.”

Of the Religious House, or Priory, at Stixwould, the published accounts are not quite in accord.  Stukeley and Dugdale [152a] place it among the Benedictine establishments, whereas Leland calls it Cistercian; [152b] this, however, is hardly a contradiction, since the Cistercians were “the straitest sect” of the Benedictines. [152c]  It is said generally to have been founded by the Lady Lucia (“Comitissa Cestriæ et Lincoln”), widow of the great Norman Baron, Ivo Taillebois, who came over with the Conqueror and to have been further endowed by her two sons, Ranulph, Earl of Chester, and William de Romara, Earl of Lincoln. [152d]  We may just observe here, in passing, that the figure cut into the stone which supports the credence table, in the chancel of p. 153St. Andrew’s Church, Woodhall, is supposed to be that of this Countess Lucia, being brought from the ruins of Stixwould Priory.  The Rev. Thomas Cox, in his “Lincolnshire” (1719), however, says that the founder was Galfred de Ezmondeys.  Doubtless, various persons, and at different periods, endowed or enlarged the foundation, and so became entitled to be counted among the “fundatores.”  By an Inquisition, taken at Stamford, 3 Ed. I., it was found that “the Master and Nuns” held divers lands at Huntington, of the gift of several benefactors, among them being Alexander Creviquer, Lucia, Countess of Chester, and her son Ranulph; and that “they had been so held for the space of one hundred years.” [153a]  Ultimately it became a very wealthy institution, having, besides property in Lincoln, lands lying in 13 Deaneries, and in the Soke of Grantham in more than a dozen parishes; with the advowson of the Benefices of Stixwould and Wainfleet, a pension from Alford, and other property, one item being “two tofts in Horsington to provide lamps and tapers for the service of the altar.” [153b]  The rules of this establishment were very strict.  The lives of the nuns were to be devoted to prayer and works of charity.  Their leisure hours were occupied in reading, or relating legends of Saints, in working tapestry, embroidering altar and pulpit cloths, and such like. [153c]  The convent was so entirely shut in by walls, according to the old regulation, “as scarcely to leave an entrance for birds.”  They were not allowed even to converse with each other without license from the Prioress.  If strangers wished to communicate with them, it was only allowed through a grating, veiled, and in the presence of witnesses.  They confessed periodically to the Incumbent of the parish, with a latticed window between them.  By one of their rules they were not to go alone even into the garden, except under great necessity, and on festivals; and no flowers, except jessamine and violets, were to be plucked, without permission from the sacrist; and they could only leave the convent on account of illness, to console the sick, or attend funerals, except by episcopal dispensation.  p. 154Nevertheless, although nominally living thus under severe restraint, it would appear that certain relaxations were allowed.  They were at times permitted to exercise the accomplishments of music, and even dancing.  They had their processions and other monastic amusements, like the monks, and even patronized the feast of fools, and other absurdities of the times. [154a]  We may even picture to ourselves the Prioress indulging in the sport of hunting, for she had charters of free warren over the Priory lands, [154b] and the Harleyan MSS., in the British Museum, have illuminated representations of buxom dames, riding with hounds, and shooting stags, and bears, with cross-bow; wearing sensible clothing and seated astride on their palfreys [154c].  The State Records speak of these devotional ladies as “the holy Nuns of Stixwold,” [154d] yet, at one time, public complaint was made that the Prioress of Stixwould had no scruples in so encroaching upon the waters of the Witham and diverting its course, that the vessels accustomed to ply on it with turf and faggots for the people of Lincoln, could now only do so at great peril. [154e]  We may, perhaps, however, exonerate the “Lady Superior” and her nuns from all blame in this matter, when we remember that there was a “Master of the Nuns” [154f] and other male officials who, indeed, battened on the Priory in such numbers, that it was even said that they were more numerous than the sisters. [154g]

I have dwelt thus at some length on these details, because Stixwould is the next parish to Woodhall, and within easy access of the visitor to the Spa; further, this Priory, like that of Sempringham in the south of the county, occupies a peculiar position, being one of a limited number of such establishments, which harboured the two sexes, canons as well as nuns, within their walls; an arrangement of questionable wisdom and propriety. [154h]  We have only p. 155to add that this Priory was suppressed by Henry VIII., with other lesser monasteries, in the 28th year of his reign; but in the following year, out of the sincere devotion that he had to the Virgin Mary, and for the increase of virtue, and the divine worship, “he reconstituted it, as a Pre-monstratensian Monastery, to consist of a Prioress and Nuns, to officiate . . . for the good estate of him and of his most dear consort, Jane, Queen of England, while they lived, and after their deaths for their souls, and the souls of their children and progenitors,” and he re-endowed it with all the possessions which it had previously held. [155a]  Unfortunately, as Henry’s love for his consorts was not remarkable for its stability, neither was the singular favour which he thus showed to the Priory, for, two years afterwards, he again, and finally, dissolved it, and granted it to John Dighton.  Sic transit!

Other objects of interest have been found in Stixwould.  My friend, the late Vicar, [155b] writes “I found two glass ‘bottle stamps,’ 1⅜ ins. in diameter; one of these has the figure of a dog, and ‘Rowles,’ in printed letters, beneath it; the other has ‘Anth. Boulton, Stixwo. 1722.’  The Boultons lived at the ‘Abbey farm’ for several generations, until the one (already mentioned) who committed murder.  The bottles were made more like ship decanters, or the flagons of Australian wines, than our ordinary bottles.  I also found many small pieces of mediæval pottery, some pieces of ‘puzzle jugs,’ with holes, and the neck of a ‘pilgrim’s bottle,’ of Cistercian ware, so called, as I was told by the late Sir Augustus Franks, of the British Museum, because it has only been found on the sites of Cistercian houses.  The colour of mediæval pottery is as superior to the modern as ancient glass is to that of the present day, and it is sometimes tastefully ornamented with finger marks.  The stone coffins, by the tower of Stixwould Church, were dug up where the Abbey Church formerly stood, in the field at the back of the present Abbey farm orchard.”

p. 156There are several large blocks of stone, at different farmyards, which came from the Abbey.  The stocks, until a few years ago, stood in the centre of the junction of the Horsington and Woodhall Spa roads, at the east end of the village street.

Horsington.—About two miles from Stixwould, north-eastward, is Horsington, its name, probably, being compounded of the Saxon elements horse-ing-ton i.e., the village with horse-meadows; that the central syllable is not the patronymic “ing” is evident, since about a mile away we have, also, Poolham “Ings,” which are rich meadow lands on that, the adjoining, manor.  The present church of Horsington is modern, having been built in 1860, of brick, with stone dressings, in place of a previous very poor thatched structure, into which one entered by a descent of two steps, with something of the feeling of descending into a dripping well.  The present edifice is neat, but of no great architectural merit, and is already, in parts, becoming dilapidated, the stonework of the spire being much weatherworn.  It is not, however, strictly speaking, the parish church, but rather a chapel of ease.  The ancient church was “All Hallows,” the site of which is shewn by a mound in the fields to the south-west of the present village, at a point which is almost equi-distant from Stixwould in the south, Bucknall to the west, and Horsington village itself; and is said, traditionally, to have been the common church of all three parishes before their present churches were built.  Separated from it now by a small drain is the old burial ground.  Tradition connects this site with the Fire-ceremony of November, in British times, once prevalent in Asia, as well as Europe, and even in America.  The beginning of the year was then fixed by the culminating of the constellation Pleiades, in November.  On the first of the month bonfires were lighted, as they have been by the Welsh in quite recent times, and, along with the fire, the emblem of purity, offerings were made on behalf of the dead, the sacrifices of animals being so numerous on this and other days, that the month acquired the name of Blot-monath, i.e., Blood-month.  The Venerable Bede, [156] tells us that, at the request of Pope Boniface, a.d. 611, the Emperor Phocas ordered, according to a general practice, that, on the site, in Rome, where “all the gods” had been worshipped, which was called the p. 157Pantheon, the filth of idolatry being abolished, a church should be erected in memory of the Blessed Virgin and all Martyrs; and on this principle, in other places also, the site of the heathen worship, and the day of its special observance, were transformed into the occasion and place of observance of the Christian festival of “All Hallows,” or “All Saints” day; and in the course of re-corrupting time the offering on behalf of the dead by the heathen, and the commemorative ceremony of the early Christian, passed into “prayers for the dead,” which became general in a later age.  Further, to give their sympathies a wider compass, the old “Golden Legend” tells us that “Saynt Odylle ordeyned that the feast and remembraunce of all them that ben departed (generally) out of this worlde sholde be holden in al monasteryes, the daye after the fest Halowen (All Hallows even); the wyche thynge was approved after all holye Chyrche.” [157]  This is the old Christian black-letter festival of “All Souls,” generally, as distinguished from the red-letter, “All Saints day.”  Such are some of the old traditions which hang, like evergreen garlands, round our sacred places.  Children may once have “passed through fire to Molech” where now the heaving turf shrouds the skeleton of a decayed church.

On the walls of the church are tablets with the following inscriptions:—“To the beloved memory of Frederick Evan Cowper Smith, Lieutenant, Royal Artillery, eldest son of the late T. F. Smith formerly Rector of this Parish.  He died of Fever, brought on by over-exertion in the discharge of his duty, while on active service in Afghanistan, with the Kyber Line Field Force, on July 26th, 1880, when he had just completed 19 years of earthly life.  Jesu Mercy.”  A second is as follows:—“Sacred to the memory of Arthur Monro Cowper Smith, Captain in the Royal Field Artillery, and graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge; he died at Beira, East Africa, on Sept. 28, 1898, in the 36th year of his age, of injuries received in a grass fire while shooting big game on the Pungwe River.  He was the second son of the Rev. T. F. Smith, B.D., late Rector of this Parish.”

Another tablet is in memory of the Rev. T. F. Smith, B.C., “formerly Fellow of St. Mary Magdalen College, Oxford, and Rector of this parish, who died May 21, 1871, aged 50.”

A fourth is to the memory of Colonel Bonar p. 158Millett Deane, second son of Rev. G. Deane, late Rector of Bighton.  He died in South Africa, gallantly leading a column of the 58th Regiment, under General Colley, at the battle of Laing’s Nek, January 28, 1881, aged 46 years.  “He fought a good fight, he kept the faith.  Jesu Mercy.”  He was a relative of the late Rector, the Rev. F. H. Deane, B.D., afterwards Rector of South Kilworth, Rugby.

A document in the parish chest shews that the burial ground was, at one time, re-purchased for a burial, and fenced in, while other papers shew how this came about, viz., that the duty of the parishioners to keep up the churchyard fence had been neglected (as has also occurred in other places in this neighbourhood), and so the land lapsed, and had to be recovered.  In these papers, both church and chapel are named as distinct, which again is confirmed by the Will [158] of John Kele, parson of Horsington, 26 January, 1540, in which he directs that his body shall be “buryed in the Quire of All Hallows,” and bequeaths to “the church of Horsington on mass boke (one mass book), on port huse (Breviary), on boke called Manipulus Curatorum”; he adds, “I also wyll that on broken chalyce, that I have, be sold, and wared off the chancell of the chapell of Horsington; proved 17 Feb. 1540.”  Here he is to be buried at All Hallows, and makes a bequest to the “Horsington Church,” this evidently again being All Hallows; but the money produced by the sale of the broken chalice is to be wared (note the Lincolnshire word, i.e., spent) on “the chancell of the chapell.”  The pilgrim from Woodhall Spa can find his way by a pleasant walk of 2½ miles, mostly through the fields, northwards from the Bath-house, or along the Stixwould-road, re-entering the fields a little westward of “Miser’s Row,” and so by Halstead Hall, and to All Hallows.  We now proceed to later incidents in Horsington history.  There are the traces of two old moated mansions, one on the right of the road going from Woodhall Spa, about a quarter of a mile before reaching the village: there is now a small farmhouse within the moat, which is shaded by its sallows or willow trees.  Nearly opposite, a cross cut in the turf by the road shews where a man was killed some years ago.  The other traces are to be seen in the field just to the south of the present churchyard.  The field is still called “Hall close,” and the moats, ponds, and p. 159mounds cover some two acres.  It has been the residence of a family of importance; and we find among the list of those gentry who contributed their £25 to the Armada Fund the name of Robert Smythe, --- of Horsington.  In the register of burials is the entry, dated 1671, “Bridget Hall wiff of Robert Hall buried in her own yard Dec. 1st, 1671.”  She lived at “Hall farm,” near the road from Horsington to Bucknall; and deeming it popish to lie east and west in a churchyard, she directed that her body should be buried north and south in her own garden.  Some years ago the occupier, in digging a drain between the house and the road, came upon a skeleton lying north and south, presumably that of Bridget Hall.

Here is another odd circumstance.  We now have our splendid county asylums for our lunatics, but the writer can remember the case of an unfortunate lunatic who was kept chained to the kitchen fire-place in a house in Horncastle, was never unchained, and slept on the brick floor.  At Horsington the parish officers made special provision for the insane.  In the parish chest there was, until quite recently, [159] a brass collar, to which was attached a chain for securing the unfortunate individual by the neck.  The writer was lately informed by an old Horsington man, over 80 years of age, that the last occasion on which this collar was used was early in the 19th century.  A villager then residing near the present blacksmith’s shop, and named Joe Kent, had two insane daughters, who had a very strong antipathy to each other, so that they had always to be kept apart, or they would have killed each other.  My informant took me to what formerly was the garden of Kent’s house, and pointed out two spots where these two unfortunate creatures were, in fine weather, chained to the wall, one by the neck and the other by the waist, about 15 yards apart.  When within doors they were similarly secured in separate rooms, treatment, surely, which was calculated to aggravate rather than alleviate their afflictions, but those were days in which rough remedies were too often resorted to.

Horsington was further connected with an incident which, had it not been nipped in the bud, might have had most serious national consequences, viz., what is known as “the Cato street conspiracy,” the leader of which was Arthur Thistlewood, a native of Horsington.  p. 160His proper name was Burnett, the name of his mother, he not being born in wedlock.  She was the daughter of a small shopkeeper in the village.  Thistlewood, his father, was a farmer, and Burnett was brought up with the rest of Thistlewood’s family.  Possibly his peculiar position may have soured his temper.  The following extracts taken from a recent publication give contemporary information as to the details of this dangerous and daringly-conceived plot. [160]  The Earl of Hardwick, writing to Lady Elizabeth Stuart, then in Paris, Feb. 24, 1820, states that he had, in London, just received information of a plot to assassinate ministers as they came from dinner at Lord Harrowby’s.  (The Duke of Berry had been assassinated in Paris, at the door of the Opera House, on Feb. 13th, 1820, only eleven days before.)  Thirty men, his lordship says, were found in a hay-loft, all armed.  Notice had been privately given to the police of the plot, and the dinner had been consequently postponed.  These men had probably met to consider the cause of this postponement.  Nine of the party were taken, the rest escaping by a rope ladder.  Lord Hardwick, writing again at 4 p.m. the same day, says, “I have just seen the leaders of the horrible plot . . .  Thistlewood was taken to the Treasury, where he was about to be examined.  Townshend the police officer asked if I would like to see him . . . he was sitting over the fire without his hat; it was easy to distinguish him from the rest, by the character of ferocity which marked his countenance, which had a singularly bad expression . . . Sir Charles Flint took me to another room, where there were several of the arms taken; 7 pistols and bayonets, 4 daggers, or pike heads, two feet in length; and some muskets.  A sergeant of the guard was wounded in the arm by a ball which had passed through his hand; he also received three balls in the crown of his hat.”  Thistlewood was taken in White Cross Street, near Finsbury Square, in his bed.  The place where the conspirators were discovered by the police was the loft of a stable at the “Horse and Groom” public-house, in John Street, Portman Square, which is between the square and Edgware Road.  They were to have forced themselves into the house, at Lord Harrowby’s, while dinner was going on, which they could easily p. 161have done by knocking at the door and then overpowering the footmen; or, according to another version, to have assassinated the ministers as they came away in a body.

The Countess of Caledon, writing, about the same date, to Lady Elizabeth Stuart, says, “Since the Gunpowder Plot there has been nothing so terrible.  Sir Willm. Scott says there was a plan to set London on fire in twelve places.  They only waited for the signal that the assassination had taken place at Lord Harrowby’s.  Seven thousand persons were ready that night to act on the signal.  We should never have escaped a Revolution.”

Truly the Horsington lunatic’s collar might well have been employed in curtailing the movements of this seditious native; but the public safety was more effectually secured by hanging him on May 1st in the same year, 1820. [161a]

The church bell bears the date 1754, with founder’s name, “Dan Hedderly.”  I may add that one of the bells in St. Mary’s Church, Horncastle, has the inscription “Supplicem Deus audit.  Daniel Hedderly cast me, 1727.”  In the present churchyard at Horsington grows the St. Mary’s thistle referred to in a previous chapter, among the Flora.  I find a note with reference to the same plant growing in a field near Somerford Grange, the farm of the monks of Christchurch.  “It is supposed to have been brought from the Holy Land, and only found near Religious Houses.” [161b]  The writer happens to know that, in this case, the plant was imported some 20 years ago from Kirkstead, where it is now extinct.  Had it a tongue to speak with, it would appeal to the pity of the visitor in the words “Noli me tangere.”

* * * * *

Bucknall lies barely two miles from Horsington, to the west.  The name (Buckehale in Domesday Book, or Buckenhall) would seem to indicate a former hall, or mansion, surrounded by beech trees; [161c] and in a field, still called “Hallyards,” to the south of the village, there are traces of such a residence, near the farm now occupied by Mr. W. Carter.  This was probably the home of the Saxon Thorold, Sheriff of Lincoln, p. 162and lord of the demesne, before the Conquest.  His daughter, the Lady Godiva (or God’s gift), of Coventry fame, and probably born here, married Leofric, the powerful Earl of Mercia.  She was a great benefactress to the Church.  Thorold gave to the monastery of St. Guthlac at Croyland, “for the salvation of his soul,” land in Bucknall, comprising “1 carucate, [162] with 5 villiens, 2 bordars, and 8 soc-men, with another carucate; meadow 120 acres, and wood 50 acres.”  The two principal features in the village are now the rectory house and the church.  The former, a substantial old gabled building, standing in a large old-fashioned garden, probably dates back some 300 years.  By a curious arrangement, in some of the rooms the fireplace stands in the corner, instead of in the centre of the room wall.  The church, dedicated, like so many others in the neighbourhood, to St. Margaret, has no very striking features.  Its architecture is mainly Early English, with some traces of Norman; embattled tower, with four pinnacles, and conical roof.  It has been renovated and improved at various periods.  In 1704 it was re-roofed and considerably altered.  It was thoroughly restored in 1882, at a cost of about £1,500, the older features being judiciously retained.  The late rector, Rev. E. W. Lutt, introduced a new Communion table, chancel rails, and lamps.  In 1899 a handsome carved eagle lectern was given by his parishioners and friends.  Under the present rector, Rev. W. H. Benson-Brown, a beautifully-carved oak reredos, of chaste design, was erected, and dedicated Sept. 17, 1902.  Two coloured windows were presented, and dedicated Dec. 23, 1903, the subject of one being St. Margaret, the patron saint of the church; that of the other, St. Hugh, patron saint of the diocese.  The inscription on the former is “To the glory of God, and in loving memory of Jessie Syme Elsey, who entered into rest May 1st, 1903.  This window was given by her sisters Louisa Pepper and Nancy Margaret Richardson.”  The inscription of the other window is “To the glory of God, and in loving memory of Robert Brown, who entered rest Nov. 21st, 1897, also of Mary Jane Brown, who entered rest March 22nd, 1903.  This window was given p. 163by their son, W. H. Benson-Brown, Rector.”  Through the Rector’s efforts coloured glass is shortly also to be placed in the chancel east window.  A processional cross was presented to the church as a thankoffering, by the Rector and Mrs. Brown, on the recovery of their son, Langton Benson-Brown, after a serious operation, Sept. 11th, 1899.

The churchyard was enlarged, and consecrated by the Bishop, May 22nd, 1900.

The general plan of the church is nave, with small north and south aisles, and chancel.  At the east end of the south aisle, in the south wall, is a piscina; a slab of considerable size below it, indicating that this has been formerly a chantry, with altar at the east end, lit up by two small windows, one in the eastern wall, the other over the piscina.  In the easternmost bay of the north arches, which now extends within the chancel, there is, at the base of the arch moulding, a nun’s head.  This, however, is believed to be modern work, introduced at the restoration.  The pulpit is of old oak, nicely carved, with peculiar Masonic-looking design, the money for its erection being left by Henry Taylor, Esq., of All Hallows, Barking, in 1646.  The font is hexagonal, having a simple semi-circular moulding in the centre on four sides, the other sides being plain.  There is a good old oak parish chest in the tower.  The tower, externally, has two good original gurgoyles, the other two being modern.

The Communion plate was “the gift of Mrs. Hannah Ashley, 1786.”  In the chancel is a pewter alms dish, with the name “Bucknall,” and the date, hardly legible, “1680.”  The bell of the church is evidently ancient, and has several curious devices graven upon it, including a Tudor Rose, beneath which are four crosses, alternating with four capital S’s; besides these, there is a long cross, with upper end branching into a trefoil, its lower end forming a fork, resting on a circle, on each side being a smaller stem, slightly foliating at top.

On the east side of the south doorway is an old stone having a sundial graven on it; now built into masonry which must have come from some other part of the fabric.  Opposite the porch, in the churchyard, slightly raised above the path, is a large, flat square stone, nearly a yard broad, and with some moulding below.  This is called “the tithe stone.”  It may have been the base of a churchyard cross; but, as in olden times the cross often served as a place of barter and business, it may well also have p. 164received the tithes and other dues belonging to the rector.  (See “Old Stone Crosses,” by Elias Owen, 1886.)  I may add that there was a similar stone in the churchyard in the neighbouring parish of Waddingworth.

A list of non-jurors connected with this parish in 1715 has the following names:—“Susanna Smith, widow, £10 0s. 0d.; William Smith, gent, £30 0s. 0d.; Samuel Martin, gent., £36 0s. 0d.”  (It may be remembered that non-jurors were subject to double taxation, although they erred in such company as the saintly Bishop Ken and other prelates.)

It may be further mentioned that in the reign of Charles I. an inhabitant of this parish, Mr. Thomas Toking (who was also of Ludgate Hill, London), presented a petition to the King’s Commissioners, showing that he held under the Bishop of Carlisle a lease of the manor of Horncastle, which had been sequestered through the default of his predecessor, Rutland Snowden, and praying for a commission of enquiry.—State Papers, Domestic.  Chas. I.  Vol. 345, No. 42.

The Rector has supplied me with a list of the Rectors of Bucknall, complete, with the exception of the period between 1608 and 1660.  As there are but few parishes of which such a record is obtainable, I give this below, as interesting.  We notice among them two members of the formerly well-known family of Dighton; also another known name in Robert Clifton.  Evan Yorke Nepean, Rector 1859–1868, afterwards succeeded his uncle in the baronetcy, while the second Rector, who held office from 1227 to 1244 being named Eusebius, was probably a foreigner, and, possibly, as was common in those times, though enjoying the income, never resided in the parish, leaving his duties to be performed by a scantily-paid substitute.

Rectors of Bucknall from a.d. 1219.


Richard (clerk)




Bartholomew de Bukenhal




William Gascelyn


William de Rasen


Thomas de Swayneshaye


Walter de Maydenstone


Robert de Wythme


John Denery


Richard Mahen


John Mahen de Chipping Norton


Richard de Norton


p. 165Ralph de Saleby


Roger Sutton


Richard Starkie


Richard de Crumwell


Thomas de Grenley


John Glaster


John Endrik


John Arthur


John Archer


Robert Clifton


John Galyn


John Sheffield


John Robynson


John Thorpe


Robert Grawd


Arthur Wright


Edward Wright


No record from

1608 to 1660

Everard Dighton


William Dighton


Benjam. Brown


Edmd. Whitehead


Wm. White


Thomas Willis


Richard Vevers


John Myddelton


John Fendal


Evan Yorke Nepean


Annesley Paul Hughes


Edward Kefford Lutt


William Henry Benson-Brown


Tupholme Abbey ruins, about two miles from Bucknall, stand on the left side of the road leading westward from that place to Bardney.  These require a short notice.  This was a Præmonstratensian House, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and founded by Robert, or, as some say, Ranulph, Nova Villa, or Nevill, who held lands in capite of the King, from the Conquest, the foundation being further augmented by Alan de Nevill and Gilbert his brother, temp. Henry II.  Tanner states that at the time of its dissolution by Henry VIII. there were “nine religious” in the House, and the contemporary Leland, in his “Collectanea,” names two works which he saw in the Tupholme Library, viz., Fulcherii Historia and Historiolæ de Britannia fragmentum. [165]  The properties of the Abbey were very considerable, lying in the parishes of Tupholme, Gautby, Langton, Franthorpe (where there was a Grange farm), Stixwould, p. 166Metheringham, Lincoln, Boston, Middle Rasen, Ranby, West Ashby, Brokelesby, Stourton, Great Coates, Louth, with the advowson of Stratton Church, and other places.  These ample possessions seem to have bred in the Priors a spirit of independence, and even of lawlessness; for, at an Inquisition, held at Lincoln in the 13th century, it was stated that the Prior of the day had refused to pay his Crown quit rents, and indulged in other illegal proceedings, besides claiming “free warren” over these different manors, which of right belonged to the King.  Another Prior was accused of forgery and counterfeiting the coin of the realm, [166a] with which he purchased corn and wine and disposed of them again at a profit.  He was also charged with carrying on an extensive traffic in horn, [166b] and it is not a little curious, in connection with this last charge, that a Mr. Pell, whom the writer, as a boy, knew well, residing at Tupholme Hall, found, while his men were digging in the Abbey field, great quantities of the pith, or core, of bullocks’ horns, all of which had been divested of the outer coating.  Henry II. granted to the Prior, by Charter, a canal to the Witham; the course of similar canals can be traced at Stixwould Priory and Kirkstead Abbey, and thus articles of illegal traffic could be smuggled down the Witham to foreign lands.  At the dissolution the site of the Abbey was given to Sir Thomas Heneage.

The remains of the Abbey are now small, forming one end, running north and south, of some farm buildings, with a small modern house attached, which helps to keep them standing; for, otherwise, they are so worn away at the lower part, by the cattle rubbing against them, that they would be in danger of falling; and of late years such a contingency has been evidently thought not unlikely, as a railing is now put up outside to keep the cattle out of danger.  There are southward five upper Early English windows in the remaining fragment, probably the wall of the Refectory; and two more ornamental p. 167windows of a small chamber, northward, with a small narrow round-headed window, deeply let in, at the end; with eight round arched recesses below, one of these being perforated, and forming an entrance to the refectory from the outside.  Fragments of carved stones are also inserted in a modern wall at the north end.  A local tradition survives, that the place is haunted by a headless lady; and an instance is related by a labourer formerly living close by, who, when beating his wife, was so terrified by an apparition, which in his ignorance he took to be “the Old Lad,” i.e., the Devil, that he henceforth became a reformed character, and never belaboured his wife again.

There is a short cut over the fields from Stixwould to Tupholme Priory, available for the pedestrian, but transit for the carriage is doubtful, as the cart track is a private accommodation road, though possibly the proverbial “silver key” may open the locks.  On the opposite side of the ruins is Tupholme Hall, a large substantial brick building, with some fine timber about it.  The age of this house I do not know, but some spouting bears date 1789.  Tupholme can be reached by train to Southrey station, with a walk of about a mile and a half, or from Bardney about two miles.

* * * * *

We now pass over two miles in thought, and reach Bardney.  Here we have the largest church (St. Lawrence) in this neighbourhood; and though for a long time it was left in a wretched condition, it was restored in 1878 at a cost of £2,500, and is now in a very good condition.  Its chief features of interest are as follows:—In the south wall of the chancel there is a piscina; in the pavement north of the Communion table is a flat slab of Purbeck marble, with a cross and the initials C.S., with date 1715.  The present Communion table is formed of a massive slab of Lincoln limestone, 9 feet long, 4 feet in width, and 6 inches in thickness.  Inscribed on this are seven crosses, three at each end and one in the front centre; they have evidently been scratched with a rude instrument and are doubtless of early date.  The number of these crosses, seven, would imply that it was dedicated to some sacred purpose.  The stone was found under the floor of the nave, while operations were going on for the restoration.  It is supposed to have been brought from the Abbey (of which we shall speak presently), and to have been the tombstone of King Oswald of Northumbria, who, as the Venerable Bede p. 168states (Book iii.. c. vi.), was buried in the Abbey under the High Altar; although it is known that with the exception of one hand (which is said to have acquired miraculous powers) his remains were afterwards removed to Gloucester.  The chancel is built of bricks, which resemble those of Tattershall and Halstead Hall, and commonly called “Flemish;” but it is likely that, as in the case of the two other buildings just named, they were made in the neighbourhood, where there have been very extensive brick and tile kilns, of so old a date as to have given its name to a small stream, which is called “Tile-house Beck.”  The chancel has angels between the main beams of the roof.  In the chancel arch south wall, on the eastern side, are initials scratched, with dates 1443 and 1668.  The nave has north and south aisles with five bays, and Early English arches and columns, the plinths of these columns being unusually high—over three feet, and those on the south being slightly higher than those on the north.  The aisle windows are debased.  The timber beams in the roof are of strong good oak; plain, except a central floriated device; the general boarding being of pine.  The east window has five lights, with fourteen divisions above, within the low arch.  The register dates from 1653.  The Communion plate is good, its date 1569.  The tower is massive, broad, and low, with here and there a relic of Norman zigzag work built into the walls.  There are four bells, large, and of good tone, the weight of the largest being just short of one ton.  Their inscriptions are as follows:—

(a) Soli Deo gloria (Churchwardens) T. T. & W. K. 1644.

(b) W. S. (with Fleur de lys) Deus . . . 1670.

(c)  Sanctus Dominus . . . 1663.

(d)  Jhesus be our spede.  E. E.  R.R. a Rose.  1615.

The Abbey of Bardney, of which now nothing remains in situ except a sepulchral barrow, dates from the Saxon Heptarchy, being one of the oldest in the kingdom.  It was first built, says Dugdale [168a] by King Ethelred, who himself, in 705, quitted his throne of Mercia, and, retiring to Bardney, became its Abbot for the last 13 years of his life.  The name of the actual founder, however, is lost in obscurity.  Leland says [168b] that the monks themselves did not know it.  The barrow referred to is called, to p. 169this day, the “coney-garth” or “King’s enclosure,” and Ethelred is supposed to have been buried there.  The Abbey was destroyed in 870, by the Danes, under their leaders Inguar and Hubba, and 300 monks slaughtered before the altar.  It was re-built 200 years later, and re-endowed, by Gilbert de Gaunt, the powerful Norman baron whose bounteous acts we have referred to more than once; and his son, Walter de Gaunt, in 1115, confirmed “to the church and monastery of St. Peter, St. Paul and St. Oswald, all those lands and possessions which his father had given in pure and perpetual alms to the same.”  And all this was afterwards confirmed by Henry I. [169a]  It was a very wealthy establishment of the Benedictine order.  The superior was one of the twenty-five mitred Abbots in England; he was called the “Lord of Lindsey,” had a seat in the House of Lords, and a palace in London.  At the time when the body of Oswald, King of Northumbria, was buried here, there were 300 monks in the Abbey, says Dugdale.  I have mentioned that when the body of King Oswald was afterwards transferred to Gloucester, a hand was retained, which acquired miraculous powers; the versions as regards this vary, but there is a legend that Aidan, Bishop of Lindisfarne was dining with Oswald, there being a silver dish on the royal table, well replenished, when the king’s almoner announced “that there was a crowd of mendicants begging at the gate.  The king immediately ordered the whole of the meat, and the dish itself, to be divided among them.  This generosity so struck the bishop that he grasped the king’s right hand, exclaiming that “it was impossible that a hand so munificent should ever perish,” and the monks assert that it never did.  After his death it was deposited as a holy relic in St. Peter’s Church at Bebba, now called Bamborough.  Thence it was purloined by a monk of Peterborough (says William of Malmsbury) and deposited in the Abbey there, where it is said, by Nicholas Harpsfield, to have remained in a perfect state till after the Reformation. [169b]

p. 170In the Record “Testa de Nevill” (p. 338) it is stated that, besides the lands given to the Abbey by Gilbert de Gaunt, in Bardenay, Surraye (Southrey), An-Goteby (Gautby), and elsewhere, Roger de Marmion (ancestor of the Dymokes of Scrivelsby) also endowed it with certain lands.  The Abbots held the advowsons of, or pensions from, the churches of Bardney, Barton-on-Humber, Sotby, Falkingham, Wlacot, Skendleby, Partney, Frisby, Lusby, Baumber, Edlington, and half a dozen more.

Of Bardney I have only one more particular to mention, a modern miracle:—In the year 1898, in the hamlet of Southrey, an outlying part of the parish, a church was built, where there had been none before, to accommodate 90 people; the builders, as in the historic case of St. Hugh of Avalon, carrying his hod at the erection of his own cathedral, were the clergy, assisted by the parishioners generally, all carting being done by the farmers; and the greatest zeal and interest being shewn by all parties.  It is a wooden structure, on a concrete foundation.  The font was brought from the vicarage, probably being of the 15th century.

As I stand on this barrow, “coney-garth,” with the remains mouldering beneath me, blending with their kindred earth, of the saintly Ethelred, who in his singular devotion exchanged the crown of a king for the mitre of an abbot, I command a view, probably unrivalled in the world.  In the near distance north-east are the buildings which occupy the site of the vaccary of Bardney Abbey, still called Bardney Dairies, and said to have been the original position of the abbey itself, before its destruction by the Danes.  North-westward, beyond the woods, between two and three miles away, are the crumbling remains of Barlings Abbey, whose last abbot, Macharell (under the name of Captain Cobbler), headed the Lincolnshire Rebellion, in the reign of Henry VIII., and for his offence was executed, along with the contemporary Abbot of Kirkstead.  In the next village but one to the west formerly stood the Priory of Minting, of which only mounds and ponds survive.  To the north of this was the Priory of Benedictine Nuns at Stainfield; while a few short miles again beyond this to the east was Bullington Priory; and crowning the north-western horizon stands the majestic Cathedral of Lincoln, around which clustered in its immediate proximity fourteen monasteries; truly a region once rich beyond compare in monastic p. 171institutions; the homes of devotion, if also, unhappily, of error and superstition; but the almost sole sources in their day “of light and leading”; but for whom we should now know but little or nothing of the distant past, since it was the monks who made and preserved for us our historic records, [171] they who multiplied our old MSS., they who were our great agriculturists, and they above all who handed down to us the Word of Life.  Not far off to the east is a wood, commonly called “Horsetaker wood,” but the term is really “Auster-acre,” the eastern-acre or field (Latin, Australis ager); as at Bawtry there is land called by the similar name, “Auster-field,” and we have most of us heard of the battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon conquered the forces of Austria and Russia, in 1805.  To the north lies another wood, known as “Hardy-gang” wood, a name derived from the following local tradition:—Once upon a time a wild man lived in the fastnesses of this wood (the woods about here were, within the writer’s recollection, much more extensive than they now are); he wore no clothing; was covered with hair; and was the terror of the neighbourhood, raiding the sheep and cattle, and carrying off occasionally a child.  At length his maraudings became so excessive that a number of men banded together, binding themselves not to rest until they had rid the country of this monster in human form.  They had a hard task to perform, but at length they did it, and their name of “the hardy gang” was passed on to the wood itself.

p. 172Continuing our ramble, a walk of some five miles eastward, partly through fields, by a wide and evidently ancient footpath, trod, doubtless, by many a monk of old, and skirting the above-named Auster-acre wood, we arrive at the small and scattered village of Gautby, the property of the Vyners.  We are here in a region of fine and stately timber, a suitable position for a large, and handsome residence; but the hall was demolished several years ago, and only the gardens remain, enclosed by a high wall.  In such a place, and under such patronage, we should expect to find the church a handsome fabric, but, on the contrary, the visitor will be surprised to see a mean, brick, small structure, with no pretensions whatever to architectural beauty.  The old square pews are still retained, with some open sittings, all of oak, but without ornament; pulpit and reading-desk, in keeping with these; the font is of wood with marble basin, small, and of no beauty.  A small wooden gallery, for singers, over the west door, reminds one of the days when our country choirs were accompanied by hautboy, clarionet and fiddle, and almost the only hymns were “Tate and Brady.”  The chancel is almost entirely paved with tombstones of the Vyners.  One of these records the murder of F. G. Vyner, Esq., by brigands in Greece, in the year 1870.  On the north and south sides of the Communion table are raised monuments, on which are semi-recumbent figures in stone.  The inscription on the northern sepulchre runs as follows:—“At the instance of Thomas Vyner, Esqvire, Clerke of the Patents, piously desiring to preserve the memorie of his dear Father, Sr Thomas Vyner deceased, His Executor Sr Robert Vyner, Knight and Baronet, caused this monument to be set up Anno. Dom. 1672.”  The south inscription is, “To the memorie of Thomas Vyner Esqr, second sonne of Sr Thomas Vyner, Knt. & Baronet, by Dame Honour, daughter of George Humble Esqr, of this Parish, His second wife, this monument was erected, at the charge of Sr Robert Vyner, Knt and Baronet, sole executor of his last will and Testament.  Ano. Dni. 1673.”

The founder of the family of Vyner was Sir Robert, a wealthy London merchant, who, like his father before him, lent money to ruined Royalists, doubtless at a rate of interest which well repaid him.  He was fond of his sovereign, in more senses than one, as is shewn by the following anecdote given in the “Spectator,” No. 462:—When Sir Robert Vyner was Lord Mayor, in 1675, he entertained Charles II. in p. 173the Guild-hall; and this he did with so profuse hospitality, and withal repeatedly toasting the royal family, that he soon began to treat his sovereign with a familiarity unduly loving.  The king understood very well how to extricate himself from such a difficulty, and with a hint to the company to avoid ceremony, he stole away and made for his coach, standing in the Guild-hall yard.  But Sir Robert liked his Majesty’s company so well that he pursued him, and catching the king by the hand, he cried out, with a round oath, “Sire, you shall stay and take t’ other bottle.”  Charles, recognising the inevitable, put a good face on the matter, and, looking at him kindly, with a graceful air repeated this line of the old song,

“He that’s drunk is as great as a king.”

He immediately returned and complied with the invitation. [173]

In the park at Gautby there stood for many years an equestrian statue, of which the history is somewhat ludicrous.  It passed for a statue of Charles II.  Sir Robert Vyner, the hero of the above anecdote, presented it to the City of London, in 1675; and it was placed in the Stocks Market, in honour of his Majesty.  The royal horseman bestrides a warlike steed, which is trampling under foot the figure of a turbanned Turk.  This seems hardly an appropriate mode of representing a sovereign, who, so far from thirsting for deeds of war, could drink wine and play cards when the Dutch were burning our shipping in the Thames close by.  The Stocks Market was eventually demolished, when the statue was transferred to Gautby Park, the Lincolnshire seat of the donor, whence it has in late years been transferred to the Yorkshire seat of the Vyners—Newby Park, near Ripon.  It had been originally intended to represent John Sobieski, King of Poland, who was regarded as the saviour of Europe from the Mussulman power; and for him, the Turk trampled under foot was a fitting emblem.  When the statue was taken down in 1738, the following satiric lines were circulated and sung in the streets:—

p. 174“The last dying speech and confession of the Horse at Stock’s Market.

Ye whimsical people of London’s fair town
Who one day put up, what the next day pull down;
Full sixty-one years, have I stood in this place,
And never, till now, met with any disgrace!
What affront to crowned heads could you offer more bare,
Than to pull down a king to make room for a mayor?
The great Sobieski, on horse with long tail,
I first represented, when set up for sale;
A Turk, as you see, was placed under my feet,
To prove o’er the Sultan my conquest compleat.
Next, when against monarchy all were combined,
I, for your Protector, old Noll, was designed.
When the King was restored, you then, in a trice,
Called me Charly the Second; and, by way of device,
Said the old whiskered Turk had Oliver’s face,
Though you know to be conquered he ne’er had the disgrace.
Three such persons as these on one horse to ride,
A Hero, Usurper, and King, all astride:—
Such honours were mine; though now forced to retire,
Perhaps my next change may be still something higher,
From a fruitwoman’s market, I may leap to a spire.
As the market is moved, I am forced to retreat;
I could stay there no longer, with nothing to eat.
Now the herbs and the greens are all carried away,
I must go unto those who will find me in hay.”

So the old horse, after serving varied purposes, and more than one “flitting,” finds literally “a green old age” in his “retreat” in the great horse county; a standing memorial, in stone, of a Lord Mayor’s “zeal” not “tempered with knowledge.”  But his memory is not allowed to perish, for in the neighbouring training stables a favourite name among the fleet racers is Sobieski.

A pleasant walk of less than a mile over meadows, or “Ings,” brings us to the village of Minting, the last syllable of its name, possibly, being derived from the said “Ings.”  Here, as has been already mentioned, formerly existed a Priory of Benedictine monks, a “cell” or offshoot of the Gallic monastery of St. Benedict super Loira, and founded in 1129 by Ranulph de Meschines, Earl of Chester.  No buildings remain above-ground, but they must have been very extensive, as mound and hollow and stew pond cover an area of four or five acres.  The benefice is in the gift of St. John’s College, Cambridge.  The church, previously a very poor structure, was restored by the Vicar, the Rev. F. Bashforth, in 1863, at a cost of over £800, the late Mr. Ewan Christian being the architect.  The font is modern, but handsome, in form hexagonal.  There is a north aisle with three bays and Norman arches.  Three windows in the north wall and two in the south are debased.  The east window is a good sample of the Perpendicular, p. 175and on the outside has figureheads of king and queen, as terminals of the moulding.  A curious slab, carved on both sides, formerly lay loose in the porch, having been part of a churchyard cross.  At the restoration it was cut into two sections, and these were placed on the east wall of the nave, north and south of the chancel arch, thus shewing the two carved surfaces.  The device on the northern one is a rude representation of the Crucifixion; the Saviour’s legs are crossed, and a figure stands on either side, probably St. John and the Virgin.  Below is a rudely-cut foliated pattern.  The design of the slab on the south, formerly the back, is also rude foliation.  On the north wall of the chancel there is an oval brass tablet to the memory of Gulielmus Chapman, of which one is tempted to say that, unless the individual commemorated was an almost more than human embodiment of all the virtues, the author of the epitaph must have acted on the principle recommended by the poet Matthew Prior,—

Be to his virtues very kind,
And to his faults a little blind.

It runs as follows:—“Gulielmus Chapman, Probus, Doctus, Lepidus, Facundus, Hic jacet.  Pietate, Fidelitate, Benignitate, Modestiâ, Nulli Secundus, Hanc Vicariam bis 20 et octo annos tenuit.  Clarus in Umbra, Rarâ in senectute Emicuit, Die 14 Aprilis decessit, Anno Ætat. 82, Anno Dom. 1722.”

The villagers of this parish, 100 years ago, are said to have exercised the art of weaving on a considerable scale, and one of the writer’s parishioners states that his grandmother lived there and had a hand-loom.

* * * * *

A walk of less than two miles, chiefly across the fields, brings us to Wispington.  We have already mentioned [175] the presence here of moats, mounds, and portions of a former old mansion of the Phillips family, utilized in existing farm buildings.  We have only now to notice the church, which does not call for much remark.  It was rebuilt on the site, and partly of the materials, of the previously-existing church, in 1863, at a cost of £1,500, by the Rev. C. P. Terrott, late vicar, and one of our greatest local antiquaries.  He himself designed the font and stone pulpit, and also executed the devices which adorned them, representing groups of different animals named in the Bible.  The p. 176tower is supported on buttresses, on a principle adopted from the church of Old Woodhall, which is peculiar, but simple and effective.  In the vestry there is a slab, in the floor, of a former rector, John Hetherset, holding a chalice with hands in many-buttoned gloves.  Built into the vestry wall are the capitals of two small Norman pillars, which were dug up near the church, and doubtless formed part of the older Norman building.  Propped up against the vestry wall is a Jacobean altar-stone, formerly on the Communion table, one of the very few in England.  The two mediæval bells are dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  The east window has modern coloured glass, the subject being the crucifixion, and scenes in the life of our Saviour.  In the north wall of the nave is a window of coloured glass, commorative of the late vicar, C. P. Terrot; and in the south wall of the chancel is another, commemorating his son, Capt. Charles Terrott; in the south nave wall, near the font, is a brass tablet, with the Tyrwhitt arms, erected by the late Rev. Beauchamp St. John Tyrwhitt, vicar, in memory of his brother Robert.  The west window is of coloured glass, the subject being St. Margaret and St. John the Baptist.

Edlington Church (St. Helen’s)—the village being a very scattered one, with scarcely two houses contiguous—stands to the east, some two miles from Wispington.  It was rebuilt, except the lower part of the tower, in 1859–60.  The pulpit, reading desk, lectern, and sittings are all of oak, modern and plain, but substantial.  There are three bells.  Edlington park is nicely wooded with some good timber, though much of it has been felled of late years.  There was formerly a good residence on the northern rising ground, but it was pulled down “in the forties” by the then owner, J. Hassard Short, Esq., and only the kitchen gardens and fish ponds remain.  In a field near at hand there were found, several years ago, a number of heaps of oxbones, each heap also containing an ancient urn, supposed to have been connected with Roman sacrifices; but, as Dr. Oliver [176] derives the name Edlington from Eiddileg, a mystic character in the Bardic mythology, these may be the remnants of some other heathen superstition.

A walk across the park and over a couple of fields southward brings us to the village of Thimbleby, which consists of a “street” of p. 177small cottages and two or three larger dwelling-houses.  There is here an old manor, called “Hall-garth,” with an interesting old house with gables, thatched roof, some panelled rooms, a large fish pond, an old-time garden with yew hedges fantastically trimmed, and a fine old tree or two.  In a field called “the Park,” at the east end of the parish, are some fine trees, remnants of a former avenue.  The ancient well, said to be Roman, in the rectory grounds, has already been mentioned.  The church was re-fashioned in 1879, and an old, nondescript, flat-ceiled structure was converted into a substantial and well-designed edifice of Early Decorated style, with clock-tower and good clock, which gives out its notes of time to the neighbourhood.

We are now within a mile of Horncastle; somewhat weary after our long explorations, let us wend our way on to the old town, and seek rest and refreshment at the well-appointed and almost historic hostel which is ready to welcome us beneath “ye Signe of ye Bull.”

p. 178CHAPTER X.

Re-invigorated, after the prolonged explorations of the last chapter, by a much-needed rest at the hostel of “The Bull,” we now prepare for our final round of visitation among the still remaining objects of interest in the neighbourhood.  And first we may seek enlightenment as to the meaning of “the sign” of our inn, for such signs are ofttimes significant.  For this we have not far to go.  Looking out of the window of the snug little parlour we are occupying, we see before us what an Irishman might call a triangular square—a sort of “Trivium,” where three ways meet, and where men not seldom congregate for trivial converse, although on market days it is the scene of busy barter, and at mart, or fair, transactions in horse, and other, flesh are negotiated with dealers of many kindreds, peoples, and tongues; but more of this anon.  On the far side of this open space, “the Red Lion” bravely faces us, lashing its tail in rivalry.  In the centre we notice a large lamppost (recently erected by the Urban Council; in 1897).  At this spot, well within living memory, was to be seen a large iron ring, securely embedded in a stone in the pavement, of goodly dimensions.  This was “the Bull King,” and the open space still perpetuates the name.  Here the ancient sport of bull-baiting was practised annually for the brutal, but thoughtless, delectation of the people of town and country side. [178]  I find a note that on April 21, 1887, I conversed with an old woman, and, as a link with what is passed, never to return, I may here give her name,—Judith Thornley, daughter of W. Elvin, farmer, of Baumber,—and then 84 years of age, who remembered the Bull ring, as I also do, and who, as a child, raised on her father’s shoulders to see over the crowd, witnessed more than one bull-baiting.  On one such occasion she saw a woman gored by the bull, its horns piercing her bowels, although it was secured by the nose to the ring, the crowd being so great that she was thrust within the dangerous area by those pressing upon her from behind.  This, p. 179she reckoned, would be about the year 1809 or 1810.  As Mr. Weir, in his “History of Horncastle,” dated 1820, makes no reference to this practice, we may assume that the old lady was about right in her calculation.

Nearly opposite our hostel may be noticed, at the corner, a saddler’s shop.  This was established in the year 1760, and, situated as the shop is in the centre of the great fair, Messrs. H. and W. Sharp receive orders for various articles, in connection with horseflesh, from foreign as well as English customers.  Conversing with the head of this firm at the time of this writing, I found that within the last few months they had received commissions not only from various parts of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, but from Belgium, Norway, France and Germany; some handsome harness, which I recently saw being made by them, was for Berlin.  Opposite the entrance to the Bull is a smaller inn, the “King’s Head,” which is thatched; one hundred years ago nearly every house in the town was thatched, and by the terms of the Will by which this particular inn was devised to the present owner, it is required that it should always remain thatched.  This, surely, is a proviso which might be legitimately ignored; and, doubtless, in a few years’ time, thatching will be a lost art.  The street to the right, running north, and now named North Street, was formerly called “The Mill-stones,” from two old abandoned millstones which lay near the northern end of it.  Half-way up this street, a back street branching off to the left is called “Conging Street,” and formerly near it was a well named “Conging Well.”  This term is derived from the old Norman-French congé, a permission, or licence; from very early times the lord of the manor levied a toll on all who wished to traffic at the great fairs which were established by ancient charters of the Sovereign.  There formerly stood, near the present Dispensary, an old house called the “Conging House,” where these tolls were paid for the licence to trade. [179]

A curious custom which formerly prevailed in p. 180the town at the time of the great fairs, and which continued to later than the middle of the 19th century, was the opening of what were termed “Bough-houses,” for the entertainment of visitors.  Horncastle has still an unusually large number of licensed public-houses, and not many years ago had nearly twice the number, many of them with extensive stabling, for the accommodation of man and beast, at the fairs for which it is famous; but, beyond these, it was a custom, from time immemorial, that any private house could sell beer without a licence, if a bough, or bush, was hung out at the door. [180]  This, no doubt, gave rise to the old saying, “good wine needs no bush,” i.e., the quarters where it was sold would need no bough or bush hung out to advertise its merits, as they would be a matter of common bruit.  This, as was to be expected, was a privilege liable to be abused, and, only to give one instance, a couple living in the town and owning a name not unknown at Woodhall Spa, are said to have ordered for themselves a goodly barrel of beer to be ready for the fair, but, the barrel having been delivered two or three days before the fair commenced, they had themselves tried its merits so frequently, that when the day arrived there was none left to sell, and the barrel was unpaid for, with no means received to pay for it, while they themselves were no better for the transaction.

On “the Millstones,” about half-way up the street, a friend of the writer witnessed, in the p. 181forties, a man selling his wife by auction, [181] who stood on the top of a barrel, with a halter round her neck, and a crowd collected round, examining her merits, as might not long ago have been seen in a slave market in Egypt.  She was sold for £30, in the street, opposite a small inn then called “The Horse and Jocky,” and kept by a man commonly called Banty Marshall.  I am not aware that it is more than a coincidence, that, although the inn has now a different name, a device in the window represents a cat on a barrel.  The parish stocks stood at the top of this street, where the Court House now stands; they were last used in 1859, and were only removed on its erection in 1865.  The present writer can remember seeing persons confined in the stocks; as also in a neighbouring village, where the parish clerk, after his return from the Saturday market, not uncommonly was put in the stocks, to fit him for his Sunday duties.

In connection with the fairs, deeds of violence were not unknown.  At a house on the north side of the Market-place, which was formerly the “Queen’s Head” inn, but is now occupied by a veterinary surgeon, while alterations were being made, two skeletons were found under the bricks of the kitchen floor.  The men had doubtless been murdered for their money at fair-time, and the bodies placed there for concealment.  Of the cheating practised at the fairs I can give a sample or two.  It is recorded, I believe, that the late Dr. Dealtry, Archdeacon of Calcutta, preaching on the different ideas of honesty or fraud, gave point to his argument by a humorous illustration.  “For instance,” he said, “my worthy friend, who occupies the reading desk beneath me, would see no dishonesty in misrepresenting the qualities of a horse he wished to sell, even to his dearest friend.”  And honesty has by no means always been deemed the best policy in the streets of Horncastle.  Edmund Yates, in his personal “Recollections,” relates that he was dining with the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Alexander Cockburn, when his host told the following story:—A man saw a handsome-looking horse at Horncastle Fair, and was astonished at the low price asked for it.  After some chaffering, he bought it, taking it without p. 182a warranty.  Having paid his money, he gave an extra five shillings to the groom, and asked what was the matter with the horse that he was sold so cheap.  After some hesitation, the man said that the horse was a perfect animal, but for two faults.  “Two faults,” said the buyer, “then tell me one of them.”  “One,” said the groom, “is, that when you turn him out, in a field, he is very hard to catch.”  “That,” said the buyer, “does not matter to me, as I never turn my horses out.  Now for the other fault.”  “The other,” said the groom, scratching his head and looking sly, “the other is, that when you’ve caught him he’s not worth a rap.”

Another story is as follows:—Some yeans ago a Lincolnshire clergyman, advanced in years, had an old horse which had run in his antiquated carriage from being four years old, till he was fourteen or fifteen.  He would still have satisfied his master, but that he acquired a very bad habit, to which, like other old animals not four-legged, he obstinately adhered.  He would jump over the dyke (the locality being in the marshes) into a neighbour’s field.  The said neighbour complained of this so often that the pastor decided to sell.  The old coachman took the horse to Horncastle Fair and sold him for £26.  The old gentleman and his coachman then looked about the fair for another that would suit them.  They presently saw a horse of the same size and style as the old favourite just sold, but with shorter mane and tail, and lacking the star on the forehead which marked the old horse.  They asked, the price, and were told it was £40.  After much haggling the horse was bought for £35, and his reverence drove home with the new purchase.  After tea his wife said, “Well, so you have not sold?”  “Oh, yes,” he replied, “we have, and have got a younger and more spirited animal, very like the old sinner, but with shorter mane and tail, and no star on his forehead.”  “Well,” said the wife, “I think you were taken in, for the new horse is already, like the old one, grazing in neighbour Brown’s field”; and there, sure enough, he was.  The dealer had docked the tail, trimmed the mane, and dyed the white star brown; and had “gingered” the old horse till he played up like a colt.  His reverence, in short, had been “sold,” and the old sinner had been returned on his hands with the loss of £10.

My third story relates to a former Vicar of Horncastle, Dr. Loddington, who died in 1724, p. 183but whose name survives on one of the church bells, cast during his incumbency.

We are told, on authority, [183] that at one time all kinds of traffic went on within St. Paul’s Cathedral, and its precincts, in London.  It was the common lounge of gallants and their female friends; and even a horse might be bought there; and such a transaction actually did take place in St. Mary’s Church, Horncastle.  The Vicar had a chestnut mare which he wished to sell.  Two dealers at the fair bid for her up to £35, which he refused to take.  Sitting together at breakfast on the Sunday morning at their inn, Brown said to Robinson, “I bet you a bottle of wine I buy that mare of the Vicar’s.”  “Done,” said Robinson.  They both went to church, which was more than many dealers do nowadays.  Brown took his seat just under the pulpit.  Robinson, not knowing this, sat near the porch, intending to intercept the Vicar as he went out.  The sermon ended, Brown waited till the Vicar descended from the pulpit; as he reached the bottom step of the stairs, Brown went to him and said, “That was a good sermon, but your reverence has not yet sold that mare; the fair is over, and I am leaving in the afternoon.  Won’t you take the £35?  You’ll never get a better bid.”  The Vicar thought for a moment, and then whispered, “You may have her.”  He went out, was met in the porch by Robinson, who found that he was too late, and owed Brown a bottle of wine; his only consolation was that he resolved himself to drink the better half of it.

At these fairs good bargains may be made by one who has an eye to the points of a horse, and can use his opportunities.  The writer knew a curate in the south-west of Lincolnshire, whose stipend was £50 a year.  He came regularly every year, for many years, to the August fair.  His first purchase was a young horse, for which be gave the whole of his year’s stipend, £50.  He kept it a year, and hunted it.  I have ridden with him, when mounted on that horse, with the Belvoir hounds, and the next year he sold it for £300, a pretty good percentage on the original outlay.  A cousin of the writer picked out a young horse from a number and gave £24 for it; he afterwards refused to take £300 for it, offered by “Lord Henry”; but he lent it to his lordship occasionally.  Another, which he bought cheap, and for which he refused £400, p. 184broke its leg in jumping the river Bain, in a Horncastle steeplechase and had to be shot on the spot.  Both these horses I have ridden to hounds, the one a bay, the other black.

Connected with the fairs is the so-called “Statutes,” a day in May for hiring servants.  It was formerly the one general holiday in the year, but now that the Bank Holidays have been established, the statute-day is dwindling in its proportions.  Of old all the servant girls, and all the clodhoppers from the country, used to gather in the town dressed in galore fashion, crowding the Bull-ring.  Anyone who wanted a servant, as an old farmer once told the writer was his invariable custom, used to walk into the crowd and hire the first lass against whom he stumbled.  The “fasten-penny,” a silver coin, was then given, and the bargain was then struck.  Wild beast shows, and enormities such as lambs with two heads or a dozen legs, and other attractions, were provided, and the day ended with music and dancing at the different inns in the town; some of the proceedings having after-effects not desirable.  At the present time, when there is more regard for our domestic servants and their characters, and cheap postage prevails, this mode of haphazard engagement has nearly died out, and the Statute will soon be a thing of the past.  It was first enacted by Ed. III. in 1351; again by 13th Richard II., and, in later times, was held under “a precept” from the Chief Constable of the Division.  To those who wish to read a humorous and graphic description of the doings on this day, in comparatively recent times, I would recommend the poem “Neddy and Sally; or, The Statute Day,” by John Brown, “the Horncastle Laureate, [184] of which I can here give only the opening lines, which breathe of the spirit inspiring the occasion.

“Cum, Sall!  It’s time we started now,
   Yon’s Farmer Haycock’s lasses reddy,
An’ maister says he’ll milk the cow.”
   “He didn’t say soa, did he, Neddy?”

“Yees! that he did; soa make thee haste;
   An’ get thee sen made smart an’ pritty;
Wi’ yaller ribbon round thee waist;
   The same as owd Squire Lowden’s Kitty.

And I’ll goa fetch my sister Bess;
   I’m sartin sewer she’s up an’ ready;
Cum! gie’s a buss!  Thou can’t do less.”
   Says Sally, “Noa, thou musn’t, Neddy.”

p. 185There have not been wanting, in this old town, some eccentric characters, whose doings have been peculiar, and have been traditionally preserved for the entertainment of a rising generation.  Of these two or three may be recorded here, but for obvious reasons I avoid mentioning names.  One individual, exulting in his strength, undertook, for a wager, some time in the thirties, to drag a dung cart from Lincoln to Horncastle, a distance of 21 miles, and successfully accomplished the feat in eight hours, but he is said to have suffered from hæmorrhage for the rest of his days.  Another man made a bet that he would start from Lincoln on horseback when the moon rose there, and would have his horse in his own stable at Horncastle before the moon had risen there.  Lincoln being on a hill, the moon would be seen earlier there than at Horncastle, which lay in a hollow.  As he galloped along he is said to have shouted, “Now me, now moon,” as the chances seemed at intervals for or against the one or the other.  He just, however, missed the success which he might have achieved, as he had to pull up, late in the evening, at the toll-bar on the Lincoln road, about a mile from Horncastle, the toll-bar keeper being in bed; and this slight delay caused his failure, for, as he opened his stable door, he saw the moon shining in a bucket of water which was standing ready for his steed.  The writer is informed that one, if not both, of these individuals was considered to be a little “short” of the full modicum of brains.  Another person, still resident in the town, remembers the burning, in the street, of the effigies of Bayock and Demont, two of the witnesses in the trial of Queen Caroline, in 1820.  They were Italians.  There were great rejoicings and illuminations, in London and throughout the country, on Her Majesty’s acquittal; and this was the demonstration of Horncastrians.  An old song was popular at the time, beginning thus:

False witnesses from Italy, they came to London town;
And all they had against her was to keep her from the crown.

Wharrie, a shoemaker in the town, was inspired to preach a sermon in the Bull-ring, from a cart, denouncing the trial.  This sermon was printed, and a copy was long in the possession of my informant.

A character of a higher type than those yet named, was the late proprietor and manager of “The Bull” hostel, at which we are now supposed to be staying, Mr. Clement James p. 186Caswell, a genial, generous, and cultivated gentleman.  He came of an old and highly respectable stock located in the county of Herts., his father being for many years landlord of “The George,” at Barnet, a stage on the Great North road, through which, in the old coaching days, scores of coaches passed daily.  He was a coach proprietor, and handled the ribbons himself.  The son was educated at the Spalding Grammar School, and acquired antiquarian, tastes while yet a boy.  After having held some important public offices in that town, and then managing some mills at Aswardby, he bought the Bull at Horncastle.  Though the inn had previously held a high position, he still further raised its character; and his spare time was devoted to reading, and research of various kinds.  He had a very valuable collection of coins, the result of many years of careful selection.  His garden, just out of the town, had an observatory, furnished with telescope, books, and other appliances for amusement and relaxation.  He supplied the illustrations for a book entitled “In Tennyson Land,” by J. Cuming Walters, published in 1890.  He was a member of the Architectural Society of Lincolnshire, Notts. and Leicestershire; a member of the Spalding Gentlemen’s Society, one of the oldest antiquarian societies in the kingdom; and he was continually corresponding, in various directions, on subjects of antiquarian interest.  He had a valuable library of books bearing on these and kindred studies, and indicating the wide extent of his reading.  Especially, perhaps, as a Tennysonian expert, he was consulted by almost everyone who has written on that subject, as in the case already named, and in Napier’s “Homes and Haunts of Tennyson.”  It was a treat to get a quiet, genial hour with him, when he would run on with a stream of informing converse, but on few themes did he warm up with so much inspiration as that of the late Laureate, witness these lines of his own composition:—


Bright Somersby! the sometime summer haunt
Of Norsemen and of Dane, whose bards mayhap
Foretold—a nest of nightingales would come,
And trill their songs in shades of Holy Well;
Prophetic bards; for we have lived to see
Within your bounds a large-limbed race of men;
A long-lived race, and brimming o’er with song,
From lays of ancient Greece, and Roman eld,
To songs of Arthur’s knights, and England’s prime,
And modern verse, in graceful sonnet sung.
p. 187Each of the brood was clothed upon with song;
Yet some had stronger pinions than the rest;
And one there was, who for thy fame will long
Send pilgrims to thy cross in loving quest.

Mr. Caswell passed away in August, 1896, much valued and much missed by many friends who knew his worth.

A trace of the Saxon still survives in the name of a field, to the south of the town, and lately given to the town by the Lord of the Manor, which is called “The Wong.”  This is an old Saxon word for “meadow.”  In the “Ancient English Romance of Havelok the Dane” (Early English Text Society, London, 1868), we find in line 397, “Casteles and tunes, wodes and wonges,” i.e. castles and villages, woods and fields.  In Stamford a back street, formerly in the suburbs, retains the name Wong street.  In North Yorkshire is a hamlet named Wet-wang, and in our own neighbourhood, at Halton Holegate, near Spilsby, there is land called “The Wongs.”

Horncastle was the Roman station Banovallum, or fortress on the Bane, mentioned by the historian Ravennas.  Fragments of the massive walls of the old castrum, or fort, can be distinctly traced by those who know where to look for them; but they need looking for, since, for the most part, they are hidden in the back premises of shops or residences, which face the street.  Briefly stated, the western wall runs along the western boundary of the churchyard of the Parish Church, and may there be seen, as well as a fragment of it in a yard at the end of the road which passes north of the churchyard.  It continued northward to within a few yards of the bridge over the northern branch of the canal.  The southern wall runs almost parallel with the south branch of the canal, portions being visible at the back of the Grammar School, and at a corner of St. Mary’s square close to the churchyard.  This runs eastward through various back premises, and may best be seen in a coalyard near the canal.  At that point the eastern wall begins, and runs northward, passing under some houses, and yards, and under the High street, the most north-easterly point being found in a small yard at the back of the shop of Messrs. Carlton and Sons, Chemists, adjoining Dog Kennel yard; so called because Lord Fitz-Williams’ hounds were kennelled there when he hunted the South Wold country nearly a century ago.  The northern wall runs through p. 188back premises an the north of the Market place, and at the back of Mr. Overton’s and Mr. Lunn’s premises.  In the fields on the south-west of the town, and beyond the south branch of the canal was formerly a maze, such as have been found at other Roman stations. [188a]  This was named “Julian’s Bower,” and thought by Stukeley to be Roman, but the late Bishop Suffragan, E. Trollope, in a Paper read at Horncastle, June 3rd, 1858, [188b] pronounced it to be mediæval.  In the Roman maze the youths played at “Tory Town;” and as this game was first taught by Ascanius, called also Iulus, the son of Æneas, from him it acquired the name “Julian.” [188c]  At the west end of the town, in the angle between the roads leading to the railway station and Edlington, is a site called Maypole Hill.  Here the boys and girls used to march in procession on May day, bearing flowers, “with wands called May-gads in their hands, enwreathed with cowslips,” and dance around the Maypole; a relic, as some authorities say, of the Roman Festival of the Floralia; [188d] others say it was a practice introduced by the Danish Vikings, with whom the Maypole, often a fixture, represented a sacred tree, around which councils were held and human sacrifices were offered. [188e]  These games in Horncastle, Mr. Weir, in his History, [188f] says, were given up about 1780.  Several Roman roads converge at Horncastle.  The old Roman castle, says Leland, [188g] quoting an old mysterious chronicle, “Vortimer caused to be beten doune; and never sin was re-fortified; the which castel was first enstrengthened by Hors, Hengist’s brother.”  The modern name, Horncastle, is the Saxon Hyrn-Ceaster, or “castle in a corner,” as it is placed in the angle formed by the two streams, p. 189the Bain and the Waring.  The word Hyrn, or Hurn, occurs at other places in the county, representing an angle or promontory, as well as a recess or bay.

To come to a later period, it appears, from Domesday Book, that Horncastle, at one time, had been the property of Editha, the wife of Edward the Confessor, but at the date of that Survey it belonged to King William himself.  In the reign of Stephen it was the demesne of Adelias de Cundi, daughter and heiress of William de Chesney, Lord of Caenby and Glentham.  On her death it reverted to the Crown, and the manor was bestowed by Henry II. on Gerbald de Escald, a Fleming.  He was succeeded by his grandson, Gerard de Rhodes, during whose minority it was held, in trust, by Ranulph, Earl of Chester.  Gerard was succeeded by his son Ralph de Rhodes, who, in the reign of Henry III., sold the manor to Walter Mauclerke, Bishop of Carlisle, and Treasurer of the Exchequer.  This was afterwards confirmed by the King, who conferred upon the Bishop, by a succession of charters, various privilege’s and immunities, which tended to the growth and prosperity of the town.  Among other powers bestowed upon the Bishop was the right to seize and try felons, and on the south-east of the parish there is a place, still called “Hangman’s Corner,” where criminals were executed by his order.  The bishops long had a palace, their chief Residence, in Horncastle, which was situated at the rear of the Black Horse inn and the premises of Mr. Lunn, grocer.  It was demolished in 1770.  The manor continued their property till the reign of Ed. VI., when Bishop Aldrich sold it to Edward, Lord Clinton, who, however, was compelled by Queen Mary to re-convey it to the See of Carlisle, and the bishops continued lords of the manor till 1856, when it was transferred to the Bishop of Lincoln with the patronage of the benefice.  The lease of this manor was held by Queen Elizabeth and her successor, James I., who assigned it to Sir Henry Clinton.  This lease was held for nearly a century by Sir Joseph Banks and his family, ultimately passing to James Banks Stanhope, Esq., late of Revesby.

Of the Church not a great deal need be said.  It was thoroughly restored in 1864, at a cost of £4,000, and is now in an excellent condition.  The east window is almost a copy, on an enlarged scale, of the east window of Haltham church, in this neighbourhood.  It exhibits, in stained glass, events in the life of the Saviour; p. 190beneath it is a carved reredos of Caen stone, the central subject of the sculpture being the agony in the garden, with figures of the four Evangelists, two on each side.  The organ is a costly and very fine instrument, mainly due to the liberality of the late Henry James Fielding.  In the north aisle is a brass of Sir Lionel Dymoke, in armour, kneeling on a cushion; on either side are two shields, and beneath, figures of two sons and three daughters.  His hands are placed together as in prayer, and from his left elbow issues a scroll, with the inscription, “Sc’ta trinitas unus deus miserere nob.”  The shields display the arms of Dymoke, Waterton, Marmyon, Hebden, and Haydon.  The antiquarian, Gervase Holles, gives, from the Harleian MSS., several other inscriptions, which no longer exist, but which are found in Weir’s “History of Horncastle.”  Near this, attached to the wall above the north-east door, and on each side of the arch between the aisle and chancel, are some rude weapons of war in the shape of long knives, or scythes, supposed to have been used at the Winceby fight, when it is known that the troops of the Royalists were very badly armed. [190]  There are several memorial tablets on the walls.  In the floor of the south aisle, towards the east end, is the tombstone of Sarah Sellwood, wife of Henry Sellwood, Esq., and mother-in-law of Lord Tennyson, the Poet Laureate.  She died Sept. 30th, 1816.  The roof is of Spanish chestnut, which was formerly completely hidden by a flat plaster ceiling.  On the north wall of the chancel, over the north-east door, is a tablet to the memory of Sir Ingram Hopton, who, after unhorsing Cromwell, was himself slain at the battle of Winceby, the date of which is there wrongly given as “October 6th, a.d. 1643,” whereas the fight really took place on October 11th.  Cromwell is also there designated as “the arch rebel,” whereas at that time he was p. 191only a colonel; but, to quote two words from the Latin inscription, he was then an instance of “celata virtus,” his future greatness not yet known; and the epitaph, of course inscribed afterwards, is a slight solecism, and we may here venture to make the remark that this monument is now itself a further instance of “celata virtus,” for it is placed in a position where no light falls upon it, and the writer actually looked at it recently without recognising what it was.  On the wall between nave and chancel, on the south side, is a small stone bearing the names of Thomas Gibson, Vicar; John Hamerton and John Goake, Church-wardens, 1675.  Walker, in his “Sufferings of the Clergy” (1714), gives an account of this Vicar, which is here abridged.  Born at Keswick, educated at Queen’s College, Oxford, he was appointed Master of the Free School at Carlisle; thence to that of Newcastle, and preferred by the Bishop of Carlisle to the Vicarage in 1634.  In consequence of a sermon preached by him, at the election for convocation, he was seized, in 1643, and carried as a prisoner to Hull.  Being released, after four months’ detention, and returning to Horncastle, he was charged with teaching “Ormanism” (Arminianism), and committed to the “county jayl” at Lincoln, and a Presbyterian minister appointed in his stead at Horncastle.  In 1644, Colonel King, the governor of Boston, ordered a party of horse to seize him (he apparently having been released from Lincoln) and to plunder his house, but an old pupil, Lieut.-Colonel John Lillburn, interceded for him with his superior officer, Col. King, and the order was revoked; on Lillburn, however, presently going to London, the order was repeated, and Mr. Gibson was made prisoner, his house plundered, and his saddle horse, draught horses, and oxen, taken from him.  He was imprisoned at Boston, then in Lincoln, and in “Tattors-Hall-Castle, where he had very ill usage for 17 weeks.”  He was sequestered from his living, and an “intruder,” one Obadiah How, put in charge.  He was now accused by the Puritans of obeying the orders of the Church, defending episcopacy, refusing “the covenant,” etc.  He retired “to a mean house,” about a mile from Horncastle (supposed to be at Nether (Low) Toynton), where he and his family “lived but poorly for two years, teaching a few pupils.”  He was then made master of the free school at Newark; two years later removed to the school at Sleaford, being presented by Lady Carr.  p. 192There he lived until the Restoration, and then resumed his Vicarage at Horncastle, until he died, in 1674, aged 84.  “He was a grave and Venerable Person, of a Sober and Regular conversation, and so studious of peace, that when any Differences arose in his Parish, he never rested till he had Composed them.  He had likewise so well Principled his Parish, that of 250 families in it, he left but one of them Dissenters at his Death.” [192a]  There is an inscription painted on the south wall of the chancel, with gilt and coloured border, commemorative of this worthy Vicar, which truly states that he “lived in times when truth to the Church and loyalty to the King met with punishment due only to the worst of crimes.”  The church of St. Mary is not named in Domesday Book, and probably at that time no church existed on this site.  But in the Record of an Inquisition post mortem, taken at Horncastle, Jan. 21st, 1384–5, Richard II., it is stated that the King gave to a certain Gilbert, Prior of Wyllesforth, and his successors, two messuages, &c., and the site of the Chapel of St. Lawrence, with appurtenances, in Horncastre, on condition that “they find a fit chaplain to celebrate mass in the chapel aforesaid, three days in every week.” [192b]  This chapel probably stood in or near the street running northward out of the Market place, and called St. Lawrence street, near which bodies have been exhumed at different times.  When the clump of shops were cleared away in 1892, to make the present Market place, through the liberality of the late Right Hon. Edward Stanhope, several large fragments of Norman pillars were found, which probably once belonged to the old Norman chapel. [193c]  St. Lawrence is the Patron Saint of Horncastle; and as he was martyred on a brander, or gridiron, the arms of the town are a Gridiron.  The “canting” device of a castle on a horn has no very ancient authority.  The “pancake bell” is rung on Shrove Tuesday, at 10 a.m.; the Curfew at 8 p.m. from Oct. 11 to April 6, except Saturdays at 7 p.m., and omitting from St. Thomas’s Day to Plough Monday.  The Grammar School bell used to be rung, and the writer has often assisted, as a boy, in ringing it at 7 a.m.; but it has been given up of late years, p. 193as the governors of the school declined to pay far it.

In one of the Parish Registers appears the following entry:—“On the Vth daie of October one thousand six hundred & three, in the first yeare of our Souvraine Lord King James was holden in Horncastle Church a solemn fast from eight in the morning until foure a clock in the afternoone by five preachers, vidiz. Mr. Hollinhedge, vicar of Horncastle, Mr. Turner of Edlington, Mr. Downe of Lusbye, Mr. Phillipe of Salmonbye, Mr. Tanzey of Hagworthingha’, occasioned by a general and most feareful plague yt yeare in sundrie places of this land, but especially upon the cytie of London.  Pr. me Clementen Whitelock.”  A Record at the Rolls Court states that Horncastle Church was resorted to by a robber for the purpose of Sanctuary, as follows:—“22 August 1229.  The King (at Windsor) commands the Sheriff of Lincolnshire (Radulphus filius Reginald) to send two coroners of the county to see that a robber who keeps himself in the Church of Horncastle, abjures the kingdom.” [193]  Among some MS. Records in the possession of Mr. John Overton, I find it stated that in December, 1812, the vestry room was broken open and robbed of all the money, and other valuables; and that £50 reward was offered by the Vestry for the discovery of the culprits.

Although the Manor of Horncastle was at more than one period Royal property, it has only once, so far as we know, been visited by Royalty.  Leland states that “in the year of our Lord 1406, on the 12th of September, on p. 194Saturday at 6 o’clock, Henry (IV.) by the grace of God, King of England, came from the town of Horncastle, to the Abbey of Bardney, with a great and honourable company on horseback”; and that “the Abbot and Convent of the aforesaid Monastery went out to meet him in procession at the outer gates.” [194a]  We have no further known record of this visit; but as Henry IV. was the son of John of Gaunt, and born at Bolingbroke, we may assume that he passed through Horncastle on his way from Bolingbroke to the palace of his father at Lincoln, and that John of Gaunt’s stables, still standing at the present day in the High street of that city, sheltered the steeds of the company at the end of their journey.  Doubtless he adjourned a night, if not more, at Horncastle, and the loyal old town, probably headed by the Champion Dymoke of the day, would give him as hearty a welcome as that which awaited him from the abbot and monks at Bardney.

Two or three more short remarks may be made about Horncastle.  When Sir Ingram Hopton, whose tablet we have mentioned as being in the church, was slain at Winceby, the body, by Cromwell’s order, was brought to Horncastle for burial.  It was placed in the house, or, rather, a previous house on the same site, in West Street, now named Cromwell House; and it is said, on what authority we do not know, that Cromwell himself came to Horncastle, that he might personally instruct the churchwarden, Mr. Hamerton, that the opponent, whom he pronounced to be “a brave gentleman,” should be properly honoured in his obsequies. [194b]

A house at the south-west corner of the market place, where Mr. R. W. Clitherow, solicitor, now lives, was formerly a public-house, but was burnt down and the present one erected.  At this house, then occupied by Mr. Sellwood, solicitor, Sir John Franklin visited, and was entertained at a public dinner, a few days before p. 195he set out, in 1844, on his final Arctic expedition; and the writer remembers his father going to attend this dinner.

We have said that, 100 years ago, almost every house was thatched.  A record in Mr. Overton’s possession states that the two first slate-roofed houses in the town were one built by Mr. Storr, a gardener, afterwards occupied by Mrs. L’Oste, widow of the Rev. C. L’Oste, rector of Langton, and now occupied by Dr. Howes; and the house of Mr. Titus Overton, now occupied by Mr. John Overton, being erected in 1793.

Having completed our perambulations of the town, let us betake ourselves once more to the country.  We remount the hill, which we descended on leaving Thimbleby for Horncastle, but by a different road, viz., one running due west.  Half way up the ascent of this, the westernmost spur of the chalky Wolds, we have two roads, either of which would bring us to Woodhall Spa, almost equi-distant by either; but that is not, as yet, our destination.  We continue the ascent, due westward.  The summit reached, we have a wide prospect before us.  To the left, on a clear day, Boston Stump is visible, the Tower on the Moor rises above the woods, beyond that Tattershall castle and church; in the dim distance the graceful spire of Heckington points, like a needle, to the sky.  Straight in front of us woods on woods band and bar the prospect, relieved by the spires of Old Woodhall and Horsington.  To the right, the horizon is crowned by the almost pyramidal shape of Lincoln Minster, the seeing eye also detecting the lesser pyramid of the Chapter House, other spires, with the factory chimneys of the now busy city, more than its old prosperity being revived.  Further to the right the plantations of Fillingham Castle, some miles beyond Lincoln, on the “Spital road,” fringe the view.  Truly, it is a wide-ranging outlook, embracing little short of 30 miles, with many a village and hamlet, buried and unseen, in its entourage of wood.  Immediately in the near front is Langton mill, a conspicuous object, which I have distinguished from the top of Lincoln Minster itself.  Half-a-mile farther lies the village of Langton, one of three of the same name in the neighbourhood—one near Spilsby, one near Wragby, and this “by Horncastle.”  As to the meaning of the name Langton, Dr. Oliver refers the first syllable to the British “Lan” (Welsh Llan), meaning “place of worship,” and so corresponding to Kirkby, or p. 196Kirkstead.  In this particular case, however, the ordinary meaning of “Lang,” or “long,” would be specially applicable, since the village has evidently at one time been larger than at present, and the parish extended, some six miles, to the Witham, until, quite recently, the distant portion was included in Woodhall Spa.  Here again we had, until recent years, in the rectory, another moated residence, standing almost on an island, being surrounded by water except for the space of the churchyard and the width of a drive to the house.  The moat was drained for sanitary reasons about 50 yeans ago, to the regret of many, since, as has been mentioned in a previous chapter (Chapter VI.), it contained an abundance of large pike, and other fish, from which the lake at Sturton Hall was stocked.  The Queen was the lady of the manor until, in 1860, much Crown property was sold in this neighbourhood, and the manor and most of the land in the parish, except the glebe, was bought by the Coates family, who have a substantial residence here.

In three fields at the west end of the village are traces of ponds, mounds, and hollows, indicating large buildings existing at one time.  And we have sundry records of men of rank who have owned land, and probably resided, in the parish.  Dugdale [196a] tells us that this “town” was given by the Conqueror to the then powerful Bishop of Durham, whose name was William de Karilepho.  He was Chief Justice of England.  This gift the Conqueror may be said to have “confirmed with an oath,” for the charter, conveying the land, sets forth that they “shall be preserved inviolable for ever,” and concludes with an anathema on whosoever shall profane the charter, or change anything therein, unless for the better:—“by the authority of the Prince of Apostles, I deprive them of the society of the Lord, the aforesaid Pope Gregory, and the Church; and reserve them by the judgment of God, to be punished by everlasting fire with the devil and his angels.  Amen.”  This fearful threat of Divine vengeance, however, seems to have lost its terror after a lapse of time of no very great length, since, according to the historian Banks, [196b] in the 9th year of Edward I. Philip de Marmion held the manor.

There was formerly not only Langton, but an outlying Langton-thorpe, and this is probably p. 197referred to in Domesday Book as the “Berewick” of Langton, for it is there stated that Robert Dispenser held in this Berewick [197a] of Langton one carucate in demesne, eight soke men (tenants) with half a carucate, and four villeins with two carucates, and twenty-four acres of meadow, and two hundred and eighty acres of wood containing pasturage.

A powerful family of the Angevines lived here at a later period.  There is, extant among the Records of Lincoln, [197b] the Will of Robert Angevine, Gent., of Langton by Horncastle, dated 25th April, 1545, in which he requests that he may be buried in the church of St. Margaret; he bequeaths to his daughters, Millesancte, Grace, Jane, and Mary, “vli. apiece,” the money to come out of Burnsall, Hebden, Conyseat, and Norton, in Yorkshire; to his wife Margaret “xli. a year for life out of the said lands”; and to his son William lands in Hameringham.  The family acquired their name thus:—Ivo Tailbois was at the head of the Aungevine troops of auxiliaries which William the Conqueror brought over with him from Normandy; and this name, in time, took the various forms of Aungelyne, Aungeby, and Angevine.  There were Angevines at Whaplode, in the south-east of the county, in the 12th century.  There was a branch of them at Theddlethorpe, and at Saltfleetby, in the 14th century.  The one at Langton had a brother at West Ashby.  They appear in the Visitation of 1562 among the leading families of the county gentry; but in 1592 the name does not appear, and they dwindled away, and at the time of the Commonwealth are nowhere found.  The old families of Scroope and of Langton are also said to have resided here.  A member of the family of the Dightons, who owned Stourton, Waddingworth, and other properties in this neighbourhood, if not actually residing in Langton (although he probably did), had an interest in the place, as, in a Will, still at Lincoln, dated 15th July, 1557, having requested that he might “be buried in the quire where p. 198I die”; among other bequests, he leaves a sum of money “to the poore of Langton by Horncastle.” [198]

From 1653 to 1656 Justice Filkin resided at Langton, and before him persons of Horncastle and the neighbourhood were frequently married, the law at that time recognising only civil marriages.

The church of Langton (St. Margaret’s) is a small edifice, and, until recently, was in a very poor condition, with no pretension to architectural beauty in any of its features.  It had been rebuilt in the 18th century, at the very worst period for such work, and so badly done that it was almost a ruin when the writer, as rector, undertook its restoration.  Though still small, it now has several interesting features.  The pulpit, reading desk and lectern have been carved by the Rector, in old oak, in Jacobean style, in memory of his father, who was rector 49 years.  In the chancel there is an Aumbrey containing an ancient stoup of Barnack stone, said to have formerly been the holy water vessel of Spalding Priory.  On the Communion table is a curious old alms dish of “lateen” metal; the device in the centre is the temptation by the devil of our first parents; an inscription in old Dutch runs round,—Vreest Goedt honderhovedt syn geboedt; or, Fear God, keep his commandments.  The font bowl is Early Norman, of Barnack stone, discovered by the Rector among rubbish in some back premises in Horncastle, and supposed to have been the font of the Early Norman church of St. Lawrence, once existing there; the pedestal and base are fragments from the ruins of Kirkstead.  In a recess, or aumbrey, behind the west door, is a very interesting relic, found, a few years ago, in the moat of the old hall at Poolham, which we described in the previous chapter.  We there mentioned the remains of an oratory, or chapel, still standing in the south-west corner of the kitchen garden at the old Hall.  Some men were employed in cleaning out the mud from the encircling moat, the season being a very dry one, and the moat almost empty of water.  This had not been done for many years, if ever before, and the mud was some feet thick.  Below the above-named chapel ruins an object was thrown up among the mud, which the men took to be a broken seed vessel formerly p. 199belonging to a birdcage, but as it was curiously marked, one of them took it home, and asked the writer to go and look at it.  He did so, and, seeing its antiquity, he obtained it for a trifle, and communicated with the Society of Antiquaries, and other authorities, about it, with the result that it was pronounced to be a mediæval chrismatory.  It was made of coarse tarra-cotta of a greyish buff colour, ornamented with patterns of squares, diamonds and crosses, with a fleur-de-lys in the centre of one side, emblematic of the Trinity.  It contained in the body two square wells about an inch deep, which were originally covered with arched roofs, but one of these had been broken off.  At each end was a spout from the cellar.  Its total length was 7 inches; its height, including the roof, 4 inches; breadth, 3 inches.  The use of the chrismatory was this:—When a child was to be baptised, as it was brought into the church it was sprinkled with salt, and at baptism it was anointed with oil; and the two cellars were intended respectively to hold the salt and oil.  This object has been exhibited on various public occasions, and has excited much interest, as it is considered to be quite unique.  The church was at one time considerably larger, as, at the restoration in 1891, the foundations of a north aisle were found, as well as of a tower.  The Land Revenue Records mention that, in 1553, it had “three gret bells and a sanctum bell.” [199a]  The only remaining bell bears the inscription “Anno Domini 1579, R. G.” [199b]  Considerable neglect has been allowed in the past, as is shown by the Archdeacon’s Visitation in 1606, when the rector, Wm. Kirk, was presented “for the decay of his parsonage house”; while Wm. Newport, Thos. Goniston, and John Hodgson, guardians, were reported as “collecting monie to ye value of iijl, vjs, vijd, to buy a Co’ion Cup, and not p’viding one, and for not p’viding a sufficient bible, and a chest with two lockers and keys.”  Uriah Kirke, rector, was also presented “for suffering a barne of 3 baies to fall down belonging to ye parsonage, and for his chauncel being in decay, and the chauncel windows all broken.”  And Charles Johnson and Augnes, widow of Robt. Thurnhill, late guardian, were reported as “selling away ye Communion Cup belonging to ye church.”  This larger church had several windows in the chancel, instead of the one window of the modern church, and an old p. 200document thus describes them and their colouring:—

Boreales fenestræ in Cancello.  Arg. Crosse Crusilly a lyon ramp. double queued.  G. a lyon ram. very crowned or, Everingham.  Arg. billetty a lyon double queued G. Rob. de Seyrt me fecit fieri.  Blue a bend 6 mullets of 6 poynts or.  Fenestra Austualis—Barry of 6 arg. and gules in chief, a greyhound cursant sa., collard or.—Skipworth.

In Campanili gules, a cross sarcelly arg. Beke sa. a crosse engrayled or, Ufferd (Willoughby).

These windows were evidently fine, and indicate a connection with the parish of the ancient families Everingham, Skipwith, Deseyrt, Bec and Willoughby. [200a]  The architect for the restoration was Mr. W. Scorer, of Lincoln; and the roof of nave and chancel was painted in panels, with emblems of the Passion, and texts, by Mr. Powell, of Lincoln.  The patronage of the living was vested in Mr. Willoughby West, who also founded and endowed a couple of Bede houses, but the family is now extinct, and by lapse the patronage is with the Bishop.

A walk of a mile farther through fields, one of which is known as Dog-fight, another Broad moor, and a third Pry-close, brings us to the church (St. Margaret also) of Old Woodhall.  The name of this field “Pry-close” would seem to be an interesting Norman survival; “Pre” is a meadow.  Near Northampton are “the verdant meads of De la Prè.”  And this may have been the home pasture of the old Wood-Hall.  Praie, however, is an old word meaning coarse grass, which is still to be seen in the field.  This church again, of which the writer is vicar, was in a dangerous condition when he entered on the benefice in 1890, but was restored in 1893.  It possessed an interesting feature in the spire, one, according to an old saying, of the only four spires existing on this, the eastern, side of the river Witham; that of Louth being the chief, and one of the finest in the kingdom, which took 15 years in building; that of South Somercotes being a third; and that of Linwood being a fourth, of which Gough, in his additions to Camden’s “Britannia,” (vol. ii., p. 267), says it “is the only one to be seen in a round of 59 parishes hereabouts.” [200b]  The spire of p. 201Woodhall is a modest imitation of that of Louth, having flying buttresses.  Half-way up it is encircled by a battlemented corona.  Its structure is peculiar, as it rests entirely and solely on two buttresses on each side of the west door.  It dates from the 14th century.  The body of the church is modern, being rebuilt in the worst style in 1807, partly of brick and partly of stone, the roof throughout being of one elevation, without any distinction between nave and chancel.  At the restoration, the Vicar, as at Langton, carved the pulpit, reading-desk, font cover, and desk for Communion table, in memory of his father, who was 50 years vicar.  The font was formerly in the little chapel, or oratory, in the garden at Poolham Hall, previously referred to, and left there neglected.  It is here restored to its original sacred purpose, and is supported by four handsome columns of serpentine, from the Lizard quarries, Cornwall, the gift of the Rev. J. A. Penny, vicar of Wispington.  The church has two bells.  Further details of Woodhall were given in a previous chapter, in describing the old moated Wood-Hall.  It was at the farm close by the church that a well (also previously mentioned) was sunk to a depth of 33 feet, which tapped a saline spring, resembling, it was said, the Woodhall Spa water, but which soon lost its salt taste from the inrush of fresh water. [201]  Beside a pond just outside the churchyard there is a very large ice-borne boulder, measuring about 4½ feet in length, 4 feet in width, and 1½ feet in thickness.

In an old charter “dated at Edlington on Wednesday next after the feast of St. Michael, 1285,” by which William, son of William de Wvspington, grants to William Hardigrey of Edlington, clerk, certain properties, one of the witnesses is Aluered de Wodhalle, along with several others.  This would probably be a descendant of Alured of Lincoln, who, in Domesday Book, is said to be possessed of 51 lordships in Lincolnshire, besides property in other counties.  The last descendant died without male issue, 48 Henry III., leaving his three sisters his next heirs, and so the name perished.

We now retrace our steps as far as Langton mill, and there taking the road which branches off to the right, southward, we soon arrive at Thornton.  The church, dedicated to St. Wilfrid (Archbishop a.d. 709), which replaced p. 202a mean structure, built about 1730 in the worst of styles, with flat plaster ceiling and wooden window frames with large square panes of glass, was entirely rebuilt in the Perpendicular style, and thoroughly well done, in 1889–90, by Canon J. Clare Hudson, vicar, and the leading parishioners, at a cost of £1,000.  The only objects of any antiquarian interest are some quaint wrought-iron double crosses affixed to the north and south walls of the nave, having eight iron hat pegs on each.  The font is modern, its bowl octagonal, with the monogram I.H.S. and other devices on alternate sides.  In the chancel are modern frescoes executed by Miss Alice Erskine, an amateur artist of much taste.  The subject on the north wall is the visit of the Magi to the Infant Saviour, while on the wall to the south of the east window are representatives of the Archangels St. Michael and St. Gabriel.  Gifts of handsome brass candlesticks for the Holy Table, and service books have recently been made by H. R. Elmhirst, Esq., and Mrs. Elmhirst.  The Communion table is of Indian teakwood.  We may here observe that the Records at Lincoln shew that there were rectors in this parish (though now a vicarage) in 1232 and downwards, and a list of the incumbents from that date to the present time has been compiled by Canon Hudson, and may be seen in the parish chest.  The Parish Registers date from 1561.  Among the gentry mentioned in the Registers as residents in the parish are several members of the very old county family of Maddison, who intermarried with the Dymokes.  In digging in the churchyard on the north-west of the old church, the base of the west tower of the pre-Reformation church was found, which was said also to have had two aisles.  In the churchyard is a tombstone commemorative of Penelope Gunnis, who died in 1826, at the advanced age of 107 years.  The western portions of this parish, which stretches from within 150 yards of St. Mary’s Church, Horncastle, to within 100 yards of the Witham at Kirkstead wharf, are now included in the Civil parish of Woodhall Spa.

In the reign of the Conqueror the powerful Robert Despenser had in this parish eighty acres of meadow land, three hundred and fifty acres of wood, and two mills, with sokemen, velleins, and bordars; other land, with dependents, being owned by Gozelin, a vassal of Alured of Lincoln, named above in connection p. 203with Woodhall.  The Champion Dymoke is lord of the manor in the present day.  A Roman urn, as has been stated elsewhere, was dug up in this parish when the railway was being constructed.  The only public notice in connection with Thornton of an unusual character, in modern times, is the following, which appeared as an advertisement in the “Stamford Mercury” of January 5th, 1810:—Sacrilege.—Whereas the Parish Church of Thornton, near Horncastle, has been lately broken open and a thin silver half-pint cup stolen out of the chest, any person giving information of the offender or offenders, shall, on conviction, receive from the parishioners of Thornton five guineas reward, and if there was an accomplice in the above sacrilege who will turn King’s evidence, he shall, on conviction, have the above reward, and every endeavour will be used to obtain his Majesty’s pardon.—“Lincs. N. & Q.,” Oct., 1896.

In a list of gentry who furnished “launces and light horse” for the defence of the country in 1584, given in the Melbourn Hall MS., we find the name of Edward Dymmock, of Thornton, Gent., put down for “j light horse” for the master at Horncastle, and among those who were summoned for the Sessions there, according to another list, we again find Edward Dymmock of Thornton, Gent. (“Architect. S. Journal,” vol. xxii., pt. ii., pp. 214 and 221).  In a grass field, on the south side of the road through Thornton, there are mounds and hollows, indicating a large residence, which this Dymmock probably occupied.

Proceeding three quarters of a mile further southward, and passing Martin Hall, we turn up a lane to the right and find the church of Martin, St. Michael’s, in a secluded spot, like many a flower born to blush unseen.  Yet it is worthy of a visit, having features of more than ordinary interest, which were well preserved on its partial restoration in 1869, and again by the late W. J. Gilliatt, of the Hall, and his sisters, in 1877.  For many years it was a thatched edifice, but now has a slated roof.  The south doorway is Early Norman, with broad, receding semi-circular arch, with a double band of zigzag moulding; on each side, Norman columns, with, quaint heads as capitals.  The church is entered by two descending steps.  The font is modern, Norman in style, the bowl having eight semi-circular fluttings, being supported by eight columns raised on a stone pediment.  The west p. 204window is filled with good modern glass from Munich.  The central subject is the Saviour’s body being taken down from the Cross; the left subject is the Saviour bearing His Cross; the right, the body being borne away.  This was a memorial, placed in the church by Miss Spalding, of Lincoln, commemorative of the Rev. J. B. Smith, D.D., the rector, who, in returning from paying her a visit at Lincoln, fell out of his railway carriage at Kirkstead and broke his neck, although, strange to say, he lived for several weeks afterwards. [204]  In the north wall of the nave is a plain arched Easter sepulchre, which was probably the founder’s tomb.  The pulpit is of Caen stone, plain, and massive; behind it is a curious semi-circular recess, in the east wall.  The chancel arch is Early English, and very narrow, only 3ft. 9in. in width, which makes the chancel very dark, an effect further increased by the great thickness, 3ft. 4in., of the chancel arch wall.  The east window has two trefoiled lights, small and narrow, their total width only 2ft. 3in.  In the south wall of the chancel are two deeply-recessed small square-headed windows, partly built up, and having a stone seat at the base, but too high for use.  There are several flat tombstones of Hughsons and Oldhams in the floor.  The Early Norman doorway and the massive chancel arch wall and gloomy chancel are the special features of this interesting little church.  At the time of the restoration, in 1877, the original large altar slab, decorated with four crosses, was found in the floor, face downwards.  It was taken, up, and now forms the base, or däis, of the Communion table.  The Parish Register commences with 1562.  Under the year 1649 occurs this entry:—“This yeare ye lordship of Marton was inclosed; no consent of Bishop or Rector.”  The unusual name, “Ingelo,” specially known in connection with the poem, “The Bells of Enderby,” occurs frequently in the Registers from 1673 downwards.  p. 205The names of Norreys Fynes, and other members of the family, resident at White-Hall, in this parish, occur frequently.  There is an engraving of the church in the “Church of England Magazine” for 1849.  We must not omit to mention that the fine fragment of brickwork called the “Tower on the Moor,” and co-eval with Tattershall Castle, although now included in the Civil parish of Woodhall Spa, stands in what was part of Martin parish till 1897.  There only remains the staircase of what was once a much larger structure.  Leland says, “One of the Cromwelles builded a preaty turret caullid the Tour of the Moore: and thereby he made a faire greate pond or lake brickid about.  The lake is commonly called the Synkker” (Itinerarium, vol. iv., p. 58).

Scott, the celebrated commentator, began his ministerial labours in this parish.

In early times.  Martin was in the “soke” of Kirkby-on-Bain, i.e., it was under the jurisdiction of the lord of the manor of Kirkby, who, in the time of the Conqueror, was Eudo, son of Spirewick, the founder [205a] of the Tateshall, or Tattershall, family in Lincolnshire.  This Eudo, as Dugdale relates, [205b] with his sworn brother in arms, Pinso (though no blood relation), came into England with the Conqueror, and the two merited so well of him in that service that they obtained for recompense the lordship of Tattershall, with the hamlet of Thorpe, and town of Kirkby.  He held direct from the king certain lands in Martin; and as the Clintons, shortly after the extinction of the Tattershall family, received their estates, this would be the way in which the Whitehall estate in Martin came to the Clintons.

Journeying on still southward, some mile and a half from Martin, we reach the parish of Roughton.  The church has no pretensions to architectural beauty, being a mixture of brick and sandstone.  It has nave, chancel, and castellated tower, and small castellated parapets at the north and south ends of the chancel wall; a large west door, and small priests’ door in the chancel.  It was newly roofed and fitted with open oak benches in 1870, the chancel being then also paved with encaustic tiles, the tower opened to the nave, and most of the windows partly filled with stained glass.  The font is plain, circular, upon a circular pediment; it has p. 206an old font cover, cupola shaped, octagonal, of oak, plain, except some slight carving round the rim.  There are some fragmentary remains of a carved rood screen, and a plain old oak pulpit.  In the chancel is a lengthy inscription, commemorative of Norreys Fynes, Esq., which has already been given to a previous chapter in connection with Fynes of Whitehall.  There is also a mural tablet to the memory of the Rev. Arthur Rockliffe, who died in 1798; and another to Charles Pilkington, Esq., who died in 1798, and Abigail his wife, who died in 1817.  The register dates from 1564, and is therefore a fairly good one, since parochial registers were only first enjoined in the reign of Henry VIII., 1530–1538.  The registers contain some peculiar entries, and exhibit a remarkable orthography, if such a term can be applied to what would more correctly be called orthography.  Of these entries one is as follows:—The churchyard fence was repaired by lengths in 1760, each parishioner (of any substance) taking a length; a list of their names is given, closing with the words “a piece to the Lord,” i.e., the lord of the manor.  In the year 1631–2 there were 43 burials; among them the rector, Randulph Woodinge, on Oct. 23nd; his daughter Ann, Oct. 23rd; and daughter Thomasine, Nov. 1st.  There were two of the family of Carrot, two Lincolns, two Applebys, two Grogbys, three Hawards, two Burches, besides other single cases.  Though it is not so specified, this would doubtless be the epidemic called “the Plague,” or “Black Death.”

An entry on “Aprill the 15 1707” gives “The Church More lying in Well sick cloase was leten for 4 & 6.”  This is moorland near Well Syke wood belonging to the church, from which peat was cut for church fuel; and two other entries refer to this practice: “Simon Grant of Dalderby for 1 days work of bages (i.e., sods) . . . 2 ,, 6.”  “Simon flinte for 1 days works of bages . . . 2 „ 6.”  This was good pay according to the rate of wages in the early part of the 18th century, to which these entries refer.  But it was “skilled” labour, and, moreover, hard work, as anyone will understand who remembers the instrument used on the moor forty years ago.  It was a large, flat, and broad kind of shovel at the end of a long pole with transverse handle a foot long, which was placed against the workman’s waist or pit of his stomach, and he thus thrust the tool forward through the turf with the whole weight and p. 207force of his body.  Those who were much engaged in this kind of work usually suffered from rupture of the lower muscles of the body.

For some years before 1657 none but civil marriages were valid in law, and Justice Filkin is mentioned in the Register as marrying the Rector of Roughton, John Bancroft, to Ann Coulen.  Persons were often married in the church, as well as before the Justice; the civil marriage was also often neglected, and the feeling was generally so strong that marriage should be a religious rite, that in the year 1657 marriage by the minister was allowed by Act of Parliament.

A peculiar entry in the parish account book is “Mary Would overseer of ye poore gave up hir accountes” (1707 Ap. 15).  We are now, at the beginning of the 20th century, admitting women to a limited number of public offices, yet the people of Roughton were evidently in advance of the times, and forestalled us 180 yeans ago.  One or two curious instances of spelling may here be given, showing that the schoolmaster was not then much in evidence:—“1703 Beuerils, &c.”; “1705 Bearths, Robert ye son of bniamen hehuhinson (Benjamin Hewinson) and jane his wife was borne ye 15 day of january.”  “Burial.  John Snow, Inn-holder, July 3d., 1765”; “1707 Rebekah Leach was beureid July the 10”; “1708 John Bouth and Doryty his wife”; “Rebekah Langcaster 1725, the douter of Joseph Langcaster.”  “John Swingo the sun of John Swingo and Ann his wife howous (was) Baptized the 17 of Aprill 1709.”  This name, in another entry, 1733, is given as Swinsgo; the modern spelling is Swinscoe.

The names of some good families appear, as “An the wife of Will Hennag was buered ye 9 of Feberery, 1729”; “Madame Elizabeth fines was buered May ye 29, 1730”; “George soun of Mr. Clinton Whichcote 1624”; and, later, “Mary the wife of John Gaunt, and Anthony, son of John Gaunt, were buried Dec. 16, 1803.”  The Hall, not an ancient moated mansion, like so many described in these pages, but yet one of some antiquity, has been occupied at different times, by members of several leading county families, as Fynes, Whichcote, Heneage, Dymoke, Pilkington, and Beaumont.  It has belonged to the Dymokes, as also the patronage of the benefice, although Sir H. M. Hawley is lord of the manor.

In the reign of Elizabeth a family of Eastwoods was located here, as the Records shew p. 208that Andrew Eastwood of Roughton was among the gentry who contributed £25 each to the Armada Fund for the defence of England. [208a]  By a Chancery Inquisition, post mortem, 22 Richard II., No. 13, taken at Market Staynton, the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist (1399 a.d.), before William Bolle, escheator, it was shewn that “Ralph de Cromwell, chivaler, held jointly with his wife Matilda, besides other property, the manor of Tumby with appurtenances in Rughton, Wodehall, Langton,” etc.  And again, in a later Inquisition, post mortem, 13 Henry VII., No. 34, taken at Burwell, it was shewn that “the said Matilda Willughby died seised in fee tail of the manor of Kirkeby upon Bayne, and lands in Roughton, Woodhall, Langton,” &c. [208b]

In Domesday Book, the powerful Robert Despenser is named as having in Roughton twelve oxgangs rateable to gelt, with three sokemen, and a half sokeman holding two carucates of land with three draught oxen; also fifteen acres of meadow land, a fishery worth 2s. yearly, and forty acres of woodland, containing pasturage in parts.  The name is there given as “Roc-stune,” whether from any Druidical boulder, or sacred stone, or landmark, does not appear to be known.

From Roughton, going eastward by a ford on the river Bain, or returning to Horncastle and taking the main road south-eastward, we arrive, a little over two miles distant, at Scrivelsby, a village which is unique in the kingdom, since there is but one King’s Champion, and he is “Lord of Scrivelsby.”  As we approach Scrivelsby [208c] Court, by a road shaded by stately trees of hoar antiquity, with the well-wooded park on our left, and fields, nicely timbered and interspersed with copses, on our right, we pause, after a slight ascent, at a point where three ways meet.  Before us stands the “Lion gateway,” a substantial arched stone structure with sculptured Lion “passant” surmounting it; the Royal beast indicating the official hereditary honour of the head of the family as the Sovereign’s Champion.  On our right, in a humbler position of less prominence, under the shade of trees, and green with age, still p. 209survive the parish stocks.  Thus the emblems of civil and military power confront each other.  The Court itself, standing some 150 yards from this gateway, is approached through another arch in the wall of the Courtyard.  The present building is not one of large proportions, the chief part of the old baronial residence having been destroyed by fire about 130 years ago; to replace which modern additions were made, on a smaller scale, early in the 19th century.  Of the portion destroyed a chief feature was a very large hall, with wainscoted panels, on which “were depicted the arms and alliances of the family through its numerous and far-traced descents.” [209a]  The chief features of interest now remaining within are some of the suits of armour worn by Champions, and a collection of “Champion Cups.”  The collection of armour was much finer a few years ago, but, on the extinction of the line of the late Sir Henry Dymoke, most of these were dispersed by sale, and the Cups were bequeathed to the Queen, although Her Majesty, through the intermediation of the late Right Honourable E. Stanhope, most graciously restored them to the father of the present Champion.  On the wall of the “Lion gateway,” to the right of the arch, is a rebus, or “canting” device, formed of a rude representation of a tree dividing in a Y shape referring to an old-time emblem of the family.  As the Plantagenets had their “planta genista,” the broom; so the Dymokes would seem to have had their “oak.” [209b]  The p. 210descent of the early Dymokes may be briefly given thus:—Scrivelsby, forming part of the Soke of Horncastle, of which the Conqueror held the manor, was given by William to Robert Dispenser, his steward, whom we have several times named in connection with other neighbouring parishes.  From him it passed, by some process unknown, to the Marmions.  The last Lord Marmyon died in 1292, and the Lincolnshire portion of his estates,—for Sir Walter Scott describes him as

      “Lord of Fontenay,
Of Lutterworth and Scrivelsbay,
Of Tamworth tower and town.”—

passed to his younger daughter, Joan, whose granddaughter, Margaret de Ludlow, married, in the reign of Edward III., Sir John Dymoke, who acted as Champion at the coronation of Richard II., and from that time, more than 500 years, the Dymokes have acted in that capacity for their respective Sovereigns, down to the last century, the ceremony, however, having been dispensed with, to the regret of many, on the accessions of William IV., Queen Victoria, and our present Most Gracious Majesty King Edward VII.

As this, formerly, State ceremony was so imposing, and of such antiquity, it deserves more than a passing notice.  We here give a description of it, as observed at the coronation of Queen Mary, from the account of Planché, in the Royal Records.  “At the close of the second course of the Coronation Banquet, the Champion, Sir Edward Dymoke, entered Westminster p. 211Hall, riding on a roan destrier (war horse) trapped in cloth of gold, with a mace in one hand and a gauntlet in the other.  He was escorted to the upper end of the hall by the Lord High Constable, and the Earl Marshall, and the Herald of the Queen with a trumpet; and after he had made obeisance to the Queen’s highness, he turned him a little aside, and with a loud voice made proclamation, ‘If there be any manner of man, of what estate, degree, or condition soever he be, that will say, and maintain, that our Sovereign Lady Queen Mary, this day here present, is not the rightful, and undoubted, heretrix to the Imperial Crown of this realm of England, and that of right she ought not to be crowned Queen, I say he lieth as a false traitor, and that I am ready the same to maintain with him, whilst I have breath in my body, either now at this time, or at any other time, whensoever it shall please the Queen’s highness to appoint; and thereupon the same I cast him my gage.’  Then he cast the gauntlet from him, the which no man would take up, till that a herald took it up and gave it to him again.  Then he proceeded to another place, and did in this manner, in three several places in the said Hall.  Then he came to the upper end, and the Queen drank to him; and after sent to him the cup, which he had for his fee, and likewise the harness and trappings, and all the harness which he did himself wear, and then he returned to the place from whence he came, and was gone.”  On the last occasion, when this ceremony was observed, viz., at the coronation of George IV., the rightful champion being in Holy Orders, his son Henry, afterwards Sir H. Dymoke, Bart., was allowed to act for his father, who was the eighteenth of the hereditary champions of his family.  Sir Walter Scott was present, and, writing to a friend, says, “Young Dymoke is a fine-looking youth, but bearing perhaps a little too much the appearance of a maiden knight to be a challenger of the world.”  But he adds, with the eye of an antiquary, “His armour was in good taste, except that his shield was out of all propriety, being a round ‘Rondache,’ or Highland target, impossible to use on horseback, instead of being a three-cornered, or leather, shield, which, in the time of the Tilt, was suspended round the neck.  However, on the whole . . . the Lord of Scrivelsby looked and behaved extremely well.” [211]

p. 212One contre-temps, however, occurred on this occasion, which Sir Walter, perhaps, thought it polite, or politic, not to mention; others have not had the same scruples, and hence an incident is recorded which may have had something to do with the future omission of the ceremony.  The Duke of Wellington, as Lord High Constable, had to ride by the Champion’s side, with the Deputy Earl Marshal on the other side.  It was part of the observance that, in withdrawing from the Sovereign’s presence, the riders should back their horses, keeping their heads towards the King.  The Duke, in his anxiety that all should go without a hitch, had hired a horse from Astley’s circus, which had been specially trained for that part of the ceremony; but, unfortunately, the intelligent animal chose the wrong stage in the ceremony for the performance, and most conscientiously and obstinately persisted in turning tail and backing towards the King instead of from him, and was with difficulty slewed round by the attendants. [212a]

It were much to be desired that this picturesque and interesting relic of feudal custom’s might be restored.  The present may be an age of new-born energies, and even revolutionary ideas, but the spirit of “Reverentia Cani” is by no means extinguished, and the interest in old institutions seems ever widening and deepening in the general sentiment.

As a curiosity I will give here a bill, sent in by Sir Edward Dymoke to Sir William Cecil (he spells it “Syscell”) for the cost of some of the articles necessary to him as Champion at the coronation of Mary, which he seems to have had a difficulty in getting paid, although he was, by custom, entitled to them.

Stuff yt Phyllyp Lenthall have delyvered to Sir Edward Dymocke.

Item for a showrde (a) and gerdyll (b), and scabbart (c) of velvet . . . xls

Item for ij pardeynzyns (d) gylte (e) . . . xls

Item for a poll (f) ax . . . xxs

Item for a chasynge (g) staff . . . vis viiid

Item for a gylte payre of spowres (h) . . . xvis

Sm total VI£ ..  IIs .. VIIId. [212b]

p. 213It may strike us as singular that so high an official as the King’s Champion should perpetrate such spelling as the above; but those were days in which many a baron bold found it easier to inscribe his name on the scroll of fame, by dint of his trusty sword, than by the clerkly crowquill.

The church of Scrivelsby was thoroughly restored in 1861, and further improvements made in 1876, the previous structure being a poor one.  Sir Henry added, at his own cost, a spire.  The most interesting features of the former building were carefully retained.  There is an aumbrey, in a curious position, near the north-west door.  The font is octagonal, on pedestal, apparently modern, the faces having poppy head and other simple devices.  There is a tomb, of Lewis Dymoke, under the reading desk, in the nave; in the north aisle, having Early English columns of three bays, and eastward two bays with Norman columns, there are recumbent figures of a knight and lady (supposed to be Sir Philip Marmion and wife), the male figure with shield, delapidated, the female entire.  At the east end of the same aisle is the tomb of Sir Robert Dymoke, “upon whose soule Almightie God have m’ie.  Amen.”  There is a good rood screen in the chancel.  In 1899 a beautiful window was given, of coloured glass, by Mrs. Dymoke, of the Court, in memory of her husband, Francis Scaman Dymoke, the Hon. the Queen’s Champion.  The subjects illustrated are (1) Our Lord preaching the sermon on the Mount, and (2) in the act of blessing little children, under the former of which are the words “Blessed are the pure in heart,” and under the latter “Suffer little children to come unto me.”  In the chancel is also a rich mural monument to Lewis Dymoke, “who performed the service at the coronation of George I. and George II.  He was the youngest son of Sir Charles Dymoke and Eleanor eldest daughter of the first Lord Rockingham.”  There are two other tablets, on the north and south walls, of Dymokes, and others in the floor; also a tablet to John Tyrwhitt, Esq., of Pentre Park, and his wife Sophia, a Dymoke; and another of the Rev. I. p. 214Bradshaw Tyrwhitt, of Wilksby.  In the churchyard are also tombs of Dymokes, one a massive structure opposite the east window, containing the remains of the late Sir Henry Dymoke, Bart., and Emma his wife.  There are also many tombstones of the Gilliat family.  Some years ago, when repairs were being made in the church, the flooring was removed, and a skeleton was discovered without a head, a block of clay lying in place of the skull.  This was supposed to be the remains of Sir Thomas Dymoke, who, with his relative, Lord Welles, was beheaded by Edward IV., in London, at the time of the Battle of “Loosecoat field,” near Stamford, 1470, when the fugitive rebels threw off their coats to expedite their flight.

Among the privileges of the Champion family was the right to hold a market and fair at Scrivelsby, first granted, 42 and 43 Henry III., to Philip de Marmyon, to which he proved his claim in the 9th year of Edwd. I.; also the right of free warren over the Manor of Scrivelsby, and to erect a gallows for the punishment of felons at Scrivelsby.  Where the gallows were erected is not known.

Sir Edward Dymoke, Sheriff of Lincolnshire 27 Henry VIII., and also 1 Ed. VI. and 2 and 3 Philip and Mary, married Anne, sister and coheir to Gilbert, Lord Taillebois of Kyme; by which alliance the castle and manors of North and South Kyme came to the Dymoke family, and members of the family resided there until it was sold, about 1730, to the Duke of Newcastle.  This Sir Edward had issue Sir Robert Sir Charles, and a daughter Elizabeth, who married Henry Ascough, a member of a very old and distinguished family.  Sir Robert Dymoke, Champion to James I., married well, the daughter of Edward Clinton, Lord Clinton and Saye, afterwards created Earl of Lincoln and a K.G.  Her mother had been the widow of Gilbert, Lord Taillebois, previously a mistress of Hen. VII., by whom she had a son, created Duke of Richmond.

Charles Dymoke, who died, unmarried, at Oxford in 1644, was a zealous supporter of his unfortunate Sovereign, Charles I., and by his Will bequeathed £2,000 (a large sum in those days) to relieve his necessities.

Sir Edward Dymoke, at the time of the Commonwealth, being, from his office and his loyalty, obnoxious to the Republican party, was fined, for his “delinquency,” £200 a year, and yet was obliged to pay the further, then enormous, sum of £4,633.

p. 215His son, Sir Charles, was highly esteemed for his loyalty, and was put down among those who were to be created by Charles II.  “Knights of the Royal Oak,” in grateful remembrance of the King being saved in an oak at Boscobel in Staffordshire, resting on the lap of Colonel Careless, afterwards Carlos.

The Dymokes’ estates were greatly reduced by sale in the year 1871, when most, if not all, the lands not entailed were disposed of.  Within the writer’s memory the Dymokes shot over lands extending from their own door (with the exception of the Ostler ground) to Kirkstead wharf.

We must here, however, pass on our way from Scrivelsby, although we shall meet with Dymokes again in the next parish.

Taking an accommodation road [215] which branches off westward from the main road opposite the Lion gate, and going through some fields, past the modern rectory, a substantial residence, we emerge, by an old cottage, whose roof, covered with ancient drab-coloured slates or slabs, reaches, on one side, to the ground, upon another main road leading to Boston.  Pursuing this about a mile and a half, and passing a disused churchyard, with two or three gravestones and no church, at Dalderby, we reach the village of Haltham.  Here we have a church of considerable interest.  Taking the exterior first, we find a remarkable semi-circular tympanum over the door, within the porch on the south.  It has a kind of Maltese cross within a circle, with a second circle running through the limbs of the cross.  Below this is a small round object, with an oblong on each side of it; and below them, to the east, is an oval figure like a buckle, while below, to the west, is a square, having three-quarter circles at its corners, and semi-circles in the middle of its sides, which form the extremities of a cross, and between the limbs and the sides of the square are roundels.  Below this is a curious lobated object, with what may be called a fish placed perpendicularly on it; east of the circle p. 216containing the Maltese cross are four rows of inverted triangles, of different lengths; below them, within a circle, is a curious figure, made of twelve unequal curved lines, arranged in four groups of threes, and forming a triple Fylfot or Swastica.  Touching the east side of this circle is another, which cuts into the border of the base of the tympanum at its eastern corner, containing a cross within a square similar to that on the west side.  This very curious tympanum is Early Norman, or possibly Saxon. [216]  There is a priest’s door in the south wall of the chancel.  There was once a north door in the nave, now bricked up.  There was a large western door, round arched, with triple moulding, now also bricked up.  Over this door are two stone gurgoyles, one above the other, let into recesses in the west wall, which is mainly of brick.  The length of the nave, externally, is 150ft.; and its breadth, with the porch, is 150ft.  The length of the chancel is 30ft.  The east window is a fine, decorated, flamboyant specimen, its date being about 1350, which has been copied on a larger scale, in St. Mary’s Church, Horncastle.

Taking the interior, the sittings are all of very old oak, many of them with rudely carved poppy heads.  There are very fine, heavy, old oak, carved canopies over two long pews in the north aisle for the Champion Dymokes and their servants.  These, probably, were taken from a former rood screen.  There is now a low screen, fragmentary, in the chancel, and an oak pulpit, old but plain.  There is a piscina, with two fronts, in the south wall of the chancel, and a series of three sedilia and an aumbrey in the north wall; also carved brackets on each side of the east window.  The font stands in the north-east corner of the north aisle, on a very broad base which serves as a seat.  The north aisle has three bays with round arches, and two eastward with pointed arches.  The windows throughout are perpendicular, but either square-topped or debased, except the fine east window, and one in the south wall of nave, of two lights.  There is an incised slab to one of the Dymokes.  The bell chamber is closed by ancient boarding adorned with the Commandments in old characters, and very curious Royal arms of Charles I.  There are three bells, and a very curious old ladder, constructed of rude beams, p. 217leading up to the belfry.  Miss Spurrier, the Rector’s daughter, assisted by the coachman, have improved the church by renovating the screen.  This lady has also carved a cover for the font in very delicate pattern, the ironwork being done by the village blacksmith, Mr. Priestley.

In the village is an old hostel, partly of the Tudor style, with pointed gable ends, projecting upper story, and constructed, externally, of brick and woodwork.

In the parish register, at the bottom of the page containing the entries for the year 1584, by way of accounting for the number of funerals (51), is the following note: “This yeare plague in Haltham.”  Although Haltham and Roughton are ecclesiastically united, and, in position, contiguous, there were, in that year, no extra deaths in Roughton; while in the year 1631–2 there were 43 burials at Roughton, and no increase of mortality at Haltham.  The only peculiar record which I can find in connection with Haltham is a “Feet of Fines, Lincoln, 9 Henry III., No. 52,” too long to be quoted in full, which contains an agreement between Henry del Ortiay and Sabina his wife on the one hand, and Ralph de Rhodes on the other hand, tenant of lands with appurtenances, in Horncastre, Upper Tynton, Cuningbye, Holtham, &c., whereby the said Henry and his wife recognise the said lands &c. to be the right of Ralph; he on his part granting to Henry and Sabina other land with appurtenances, in Upper Tynton; certain of the lands being designated Pese-wang, Leir-me-Wang, Whete-wang, and Krunce Wong, with Hethotenacre (Heath of ten acre), Sexacre, and other names.  These names illustrate what was said on a previous page regarding the field named “the Wong,” at Horncastle.  A very curious feature of the agreement is that the said Henry and Sabina are “to have and to hold” these lands “of the aforesaid Ralph and his heirs forever, rendering therefor, by the year, one pair of gilt spurs, or 6d., at Easter, for all service and exaction.” [217]

p. 218Having thus made our halt at Haltham, we bid adieu to the place, and push on southward.  Passing Tumby Lawn, the residence of Sir H. M. Hawley, surrounded by leafy groves, within whose shade (teste scriptore) Philomel doth pour forth (malgré the poets) his flood of song, while a whole coterie of other birds in “amorous descant” join; and sheltered from the east by the extensive woods of Haltham, Fulsby, and Tumby, remains of the whilom “Tumby Chase,” we find ourselves, at the end of some three and a half miles, entering the main street of Coningsby.  Here again, we might ask, with love-sick Juliet, “What’s in a name?”  But, in sooth, a name may be an epitome of history.  There is an old proverb that “knowledge is power,” and we might say, the name of Coningsby is a territorial exemplification and perpetuation of this adage.  In the language once spoken in these parts, [218] the conning, cunning man and the king were one and the same; the king was king because he was the conner, the thinker, and so overtopped his fellows in cunning.  He embodied in his own person the moral of every age of progress, that brute force must yield the palm to skill and judgment.  Mob-rule may for a while snatch at, and hold, the mastery; but ’tis the man who has the cunning to bide his time, and then seize the opportunity, who will be borne in triumph on the shoulders of those who once hustled and jostled him.  Within some miles northward of where I am writing lies Kingthorpe, “the king’s village”; and at just about the same distance p. 219southward lies Coningsby, with precisely the same meaning.  Both names imply the presence at one time of a king; who he may have been we do not know, but he put down his foot there, and the stamp remains.  There was once a castellated residence here, the home of the Coningsby family; and one of them, Thomas, was created Earl of Coningsby, but, dying without issue, the title became extinct in 1729.  I may here mention that the tomb of the last Countess of Coningsby is in the north chantry chapel of Heydour church (between Sleaford and Grantham); it is a marble monument by Rijsbrach.  There is also a slab to the last Viscount, 1733, who is traditionally said to have been taken from his cradle by a pet monkey, and dropped by it, in the terror of pursuit, from the roof of the house on to the stone pavement below, and so killed.  The position of this old Coningsby mansion is not precisely known; but in a field on the south side of the main street there is an ancient dove-cot, and some fine trees, such as one might expect about a baronial residence.  The Coningsbys moved from Coningsby to Hampton Court in Herefordshire more than two centuries ago. [219a]  There was a very fine collection of pictures at this place, a list of which was given in the “Gentleman’s Magazine” of April 26, 1826.  Among these was a painting of the old mansion of Coningsby.  Hampton Court is now the residence of John Arkwright, Esq., and is situated between Hereford and Leominster.  But “vixere fortes ante Agamemnona,” and there were men of mark at Coningsby long before those who took its name as their patronymic.  In Domesday Book we find that Sortibrand, the son of Ulf, the Saxon, who was one of the Lagmen of Lincoln, and had “sac and soc [219b] over three mansions in that city,” as successor to his father (loco Ulf patris sui), held a berewick (a corn farm) in Coningsby.

When the powerful favourite of the Conqueror, Robert Despenser, laid claim to a fishery and certain land in Coningsby, the Jurymen of the Wapentake of Horncastle decided that his claim was good, because Achi, his Saxon predecessor, p. 220had held the same in the time of Edward the Confessor.  Moreover, the said Robert Despenser already held in Coningsby a berewick—“bere” (barley) land—of nine oxgangs, or some 225 acres, of meadow and wood, besides land in a score more parishes.  And, again, from the same source we learn that a noble Fleming, Drogo de Bruere, who fought under the Conqueror at the battle of Hastings, and was rewarded by the gift of the whole of Holderness in Yorkshire, and other manors in Lincolnshire and elsewhere, also held land in Coningsby.  Of this noble, Camden relates that the Conqueror valued his services so highly that he bestowed his own niece upon him in marriage; but that he destroyed her by poison, and then fled the country, all attempts to discover him having failed down to the time of the Domesday Survey being taken. [220a]

In the List of the Gentry of Lincolnshire, made on the Herald’s Visitation of the county in 1634, and still preserved at the Herald’s College, are the names of John Carter and Clinton Whichcote, of Coningsby. [220b]

In a Chancery Inquisition, post mortem, taken 31st May, 10 Henry VII., No. 72 (1495), it was found that Robert Taillebois, Knight, and John Gygour, Clerk, Warden of the College of Tatteshale, were “seized in their demesne as of fee of the manors of South Kyme, North Kyme, Conyngsby, Dokdyke, Byllingay,” and other properties. [220c]  While, as an evidence of the trade of Coningsby, in a list of “Lincolnshire Town and Traders’ Tokens,” made by the late Mr. C. J. Caswell, of Horncastle, there occurs one of a Coningsby tradesman, bearing on the obverse side, “John Lupton—The Baker’s Arms,” and on the reverse side, “Of Cunsby, 1663—J. A. L.” [220d]  Mr. Caswell adds a note that “where three initials are given, as in this case, the issuer’s wife is included, sometimes p. 221joined in a true lover’s knot.  Mr. John Lupton (in the present day) is a well-known and respected farmer of Pinchbeck West.  His daughter married T. A. Roberts, Esq., M.R.C.S., late of Coningsby.”

I have already, in connection with Haltham, quoted an old Record, Feet of Fines, 9 Henry III., No. 52, which gives an agreement between Henry del Ortiay and Sabina his wife, as plaintiffs, on the one part, and Ralph de Rhodes on the other part, holding lands in Coningsby, Haltham, Marynge (Mareham), and other places; by which they recognise these lands as his by right, and, in return, he assigns certain land to them in Upper Tynton, to have and to hold for ever, by the tenure of a pair of gilt spurs, given annually.  This brings this powerful baron into connection with Coningsby. [221a]  While further, in a Feet of Fines, 19 Henry VII. (1503), on the Octave of Holy Trinity, an agreement is given between Sir Edward Ponyngs, Knt., Sir Thomas Fenys (Fynes?), Knt., Sir John Peeche, Knt., John Mordaunt, and others, plaintiffs, on the one part, and Sir George Nevyll, of Burgavenny, Knight, and Joan his wife, deforciants, whereby George and Joan recognise certain lands in Conysby, Halton, Belcheford, and elsewhere, to be the right of John Mordaunt, for which the plaintiffs gave them £l,000. [221b]  Here we have another proprietor, John Mordaunt, brought into connection with Coningsby, and that he was a man of substance was shewn by the fact that this recognition of his property was not confined to Coningsby, but extended to the manor of Estwardesbersoke, etc., in Notts.; the manors of Halton, Aukebarow, and Burton Stather; lands in Winterton, Theylby, Hybalstede, Barnaby, Eyrby, Crosby, Gunnall, Donyngton, etc.  Further, by Feet of Fynes, 21 Henry VII. (1505), an agreement is given between Richard, Bishop of Winchester, Sir Giles Daubeney, of Daubeney, Knight; Sir T. Lovell, Sir R. Emson, Sir James Hobart, Humphrey Conyngesby, one of the King’s Sergeants at Law, and others, as plaintiffs, and Robert Ratclyfe de Fitzwater, and Margaret Ratclyfe, widow of Sir John Ratclyfe de Fitzwater, deforciants; whereby Robert and Margaret recognise the castle of Egremound, and various other manors and properties, to be the right of the Bishop.

p. 222Further, it is known that the manor of Coningsby was formerly held by the Marmyons, and they and their descendants, the Dymokes, were largely commemorated in stained-glass windows once existing in the church; and a tombstone records the “Hic jacet” of Anna, daughter of Thomas Dymoke, and his wife “que obijt A° Dni 1462.”  The manorial rights ultimately passed to the Heathcotes, and are now the property of the head of that family, the Earl of Ancaster.

Let us now look at the church; and, taking the exterior first, we are struck by the fine tower, which is visible for many miles round.  It is of the Perpendicular order, very plain; indeed, almost without ornament, except for the roses on the cuspings of the upper window; but it is of solid, good ashlar work, well supported by buttresses, and its outline relieved by several set-offs.  It is pierced, below, by an arched passage, through which there is a public thoroughfare, existing from time immemorial, [222] the supposition being, that the monks of Croyland and other southern monasteries, on their way to Kirkstead, and their more northern brethren, “baited” at the rectory hard by, where there are still traces of a large refectory in the presence of an arch of wide span, which runs through the oldest part of the house, from top to bottom.  In the east and west walls, on either side of this tower arch, is a sex-foiled, circular window; that on the east being in the west wall of the nave, and filled with coloured glass; that on the west, being in the outside wall of the tower, has never been glazed.  In the south-eastern wall of the porch is a stoup, which formerly was open both within the porch and outside, though now it is closed outside.  Built into the west wall of the south aisle, probably at the restoration in 1872, is a block of stone, carved with a closed hand, having a finely-laced cuff.  This is, doubtless, an importation from elsewhere.  Near the top of the wall of a cupola-shaped south finial of the rood-loft turret, is an old sun-dial.  Taking now the interior, we find a massive heavy roof, of beams somewhat rudely hewn, with traces of former colouring still perceptible.  The four western bays of the arcade are Early English, with low arches rising from octagonal piers; the easternmost bay seems to have been an addition at a p. 223later date; some of the piers, two on the north and one on the south, have been heightened, and the arches are higher and wider.  The moulding between two of the north arches terminates in a head, on each side of which an evil spirit is whispering.  Another terminal is the head of a woman wearing the “branks,” or scold’s bridle. [223]  The clerestory windows were spoilt at the restoration, when their height had to be reduced.  Externally their original design remains—two lancet windows over each arch; but internally the lancets have been cut short and converted into triangular lights with curved sides.  On the south side of the chancel arch is a rood-loft staircase turret, of which both the upper and lower doorways remain.  The chancel east end is apsidal, modern, and out of keeping with the rest of the structure.  There are three two-light windows in the three faces of the apse.  In one of these the present rector, Canon Arthur Wright, has placed a two-light memorial window, to his deceased wife, of some beauty.  South of the Communion table, attached to the wall as a credence table, is an Early English capital, with piscina behind.  The windows in the north aisle are decorated with reticulated tracery.  Those of the south aisle are Perpendicular, with segmented heads.  The windows throughout the church, and extending even to the rectory house, were, at a former period, unusually rich in stained glass,

With varied hues all richly dight,
In radiance and collateral light,
Of knight’s and baron’s heraldic scroll,
And prayers invoked for manie a soule.

The marvel is, what has become of it, since there is no record of any act of spoliation such as is known to have been committed in the neighbouring church of Tattershall.  We give here extracts from Gervase Holles’ “Notes on Churches,” descriptive of these windows, etc., from the Harleyan MSS., No. 6,829, as they are given in Weir’s “History,” pp. 50–52, ed. 1820.

p. 224In fenestra Orientali Cancelli


Verry a fesse G. fretty d’or

Sa. 2 lyons passant arg. crowned d’or



G. a frett of 8 pieces d’or

B.3 garbes d’or


G. a lyon rampant d’or


Sa. a sword in pale arg


Sa. 3 lyons passant arg crowned d’or


Arg, 3 flowres de lize between 6 crosse crosslets, fitchy sa. a border G.


Arg. a playne crosse G.


G. a playne cross arg



Tumulus lapideus.

‘Hic jacet Anna fillla Thome Dymoke Militis D’ni . . . et Margaretis consortis suæ que obijt A° Dni 1642 &c.


Empaled } Verry a fesse G. fretty d’or


Empaled } Or a lyon rampant double queue sa


In mure boreali aere sculptum.

Orate pro a’i’a M’ri Joh’is de Croxby quondam Rectoris istius ecclesiæ. qui dedit annualem redditum xxs annuatim in p’petuum, et in secunda, Feriæ primæ hebdommadæ quadragesimæ habitantibus in Conningsby sc’am formam evidentiæ suæ distribuendorum.

“This charity hath ceased for many years, the evidence having been sacrilegiously stolen out of that monument within the wall, as by the loosening of the plate of brasse may appeare.

In fenestra Occidentali Capellæ Orientalis

Orate pro a’iabus . . Hatcliffe . . . Ux’is suæ


Sa. 3 welles arg. bis


Empaled } Sa. 3 welles arg


Emplaed } B. 2 bars d’or over all a lyon rampant . . . G.


Sa. a sword in pale arg


Arg. a fesse daunce betw. 3 talbots’ heads erased sa.


Arg. a fesse betw. 3 cootes sa


B. 2 bars d’or over all a lyon rampant G


“Orate pro bono statu H. Wellis notorii publici


Uxoris suæ et sequelis eorum, . . . hanc fenestram fieri fecerunt A’no D’ni 1460.


In superioribus fenestris Borealibus.

G. a cinquefoil pierced betw. 8 crosse crosselets d’or



Sa. a cross engrayled d’or . . . Ufford

G. a cross sarcely arg. . . Beke


G. 3 Waterbougets arg


Or a lyon rampant double queue sa.


Arg. a crosse patonee G.


Arg. a chiefe G. over all a bend engrayled B


Chequy or & G. a chiefe ermine


Ermine a fesse G.


Arg. a chiefe over all a bend B.


Sa. 2 lyons passant arg. crowned or


Or on fesse G. 3 plates


Quarterly or & G. a border sa. bezanty, on the 2nd quarter a garbe arg.


Quarterly &c. an annulet on the 2nd quarter


B. crucilly a lyon rampant arg. bis


Arg. 3 shell snayles sa.


Dymoke Crumwell Holland


Quarterly France & England a label of 3 arg.


Quarterly France & England a label of 3 ermyne



p. 225In fenestra Orientali.

“Orate pro a’iabus fratrum and sororum Gildæ be’æ Mariæ de Cuningsby qui istam fenestram fieri fecerunt.

“This a fayre Window, adorned with the genealogy of the Kings of Israel and Judah, David lying along through the whole bottome, from whose roote branche out the several stems.  In one part of it below the Picture of King Edward the first, crowned, &c., &c.

Edwardus primus regnavit annos . . .

“Orate pro Matilda de Padeholme et Alicia . . .

On a gravestone

“Hic jacet D’nus Thomas Butler, quondam Capellanus Gilda be’æ Mariæ Cunningsby, qui obiit 10 die mensis Decembrie A’no D’ni 1510.  Cujus a’iæ &c., &c.

On Another

Pray for the soule of John Smith of Cunsby sometime M’chant of the staple of Calis, which died in the yeare of our Lord God 1470, and Jonet his wife which died the 24 day of November in the yeare of our Lord God 1461.

And all goode people that this Scripture reade or see
For their soules say a Paternoster, Ave Maria, & a creed for Charity.

“On another the pourtraytures of a man and his two wives on either side of him in brasse with this inscription, viz’t.

Pray for the soules of Richard Whetecroft of Coningsby M’chant of the Staple of Calice, and sometime Lieutenant of the same, & Jane & Margaret his Wives, which Richard deceased the 23d day of November, A’o D’ni 1524.

In the Parlour of the Parsonage House

Arg. a crosse engrayled G. betw. 4 water bougets sa.


Quarterly & Quartered with Quarterly

Gules billetty d’or a fesse arg.

Crumwell and Tateshale


B. a manche d’or



Sa. 3 lyons passant guardent arg.

Sa. 2 lyons passant arg. crowned d’or






Verry a fesse G.


Or. a lyon rampant double queue sa.



a coate defaced




Verry a fesse G.

B. a manche, d’or.


“All these Escucheons are in 2 windows, in which 2 windows are also these verses:—

Alme Deus, cæli Croxby tu parce Johanni
Hanc ædem fieri benefecit sponte Jo Croxby
Anno milleno quater C L X quoque terno

In the other windowes

Barry of 6 ermyne & G. 3 cresents sa.


Quarterly Ufford & Beke


Verry a fesse G.


Ermyne 5 fusils in fees G


Arg. a crosse sarcely sa.


Empaled } Quarterly Crumwell & Tateshale


Empaled } B. fesse betw. 6 billets d’or






Sa. an arming sworde pile in poynte arg


p. 226Empaled

Arg. 8 bulls passant

G. on a chevron arg. 3 pomeis



Arg. a fesse daunce betw. 3 talbots heades erased ca.

Arg. a fesse betw. 3 cooks sa.


Harleyan MS., No. 6829, pp. 179 to 182

The font is plain, octagonal, Early English.  In the centre of the nave are two slabs, once having had brasses, but these are no longer in situ.  Over the porch is a parvis, as a priest’s chamber, or school.  The church has a clock and six bells.  The curfew, or ignitegium, was rung down to within the last thirty years.  Among the Rectors have been two poets, one of them the Laureate of his day (1718), the Rev. Laurence Eusden, who died in 1730.  A man originally “of some parts,” by inordinate flattery he obtained that distinction, which, however, invited criticism; and his mediocre abilities, accompanied by habits somewhat intemperate, provoked ridicule.  Among other productions, he translated into Latin Lord Halifax’s poem on “The Battle of the Boyne.”  Pope refers to him, in his “Dunciad,” thus:—

Know, Eusden thirsts no more for sack or praise,
   He sleeps among the dull of ancient days;
      Safe, where no critics d---n, nor duns molest

Another writer says of him,

Eusden, a laurell’d bard, by fortune raised,
By very few men read, by fewer praised;

while the Duke of Buckingham, describing, in a “skit,” the contest for the Laureateship, says,

In rushed Eusden, and cryed, “Who shall have it?
But I, the true Laureate, to whom the king gave it?”
Apollo begged pardon, and granted his claim,
But vowed that till then he’d ne’er heard of his name.

John Dyer, born 1700, was a much more reputable person.  He was educated at Westminster; began life as an itinerant artist, with a keen eye to the beauties of nature, when that taste was little cultivated.  He was appointed to the rectory by Sir John Heathcote in 1752, and in 1755 to Kirkby-on-Bain, for which he exchanged Belchford, where he had formerly been.  He was the author of “Grongar Hill,” “The Fleece,” and “The Ruins of Rome.”  He was honoured with a sonnet by Wordsworth; but his longer poems are somewhat wearisome reading.

The place-names in this parish indicate the condition of woodland and waste which formerly prevailed.  Immediately south of the church and its surroundings we find the “Ings,” or meadows, the Saxon term which we have noticed in several other parishes.  Further off, p. 227we have “Oaklands” farm, and “Scrub-hill,” “scrub” being an old Lincolnshire word for a small wood; as we have, in the neighbourhood, ‘Edlington Scrubs’ and ‘Roughton Scrubs.’  “Reedham,” another name, indicates a waste of morass.  “Toot-hill” might be a raised ground from which a watch, or look-out, was kept, in troublous times; and Dr. Oliver says, in his “Religious Houses,” Appendix, p. 166, “‘Taut’ is a place of observation; ‘Touter’ is a watcher in hiding;” but it is more likely to be from the Saxon “tot,” an eminence (“totian,” to rise), in which case the second syllable, “hill,” is only a later translation of the first.  However, Toot-hill, Tothill, or Tooter’s hill, are not uncommon in other parts, and are said to have been connected with the heathen worship of Taith.  Langworth Grange, in this parish, would probably be (as elsewhere) a corruption of Langwath, the long ford over some of the fenny stretches of water.  The most peculiar place-name is “Troy-wood.”  It is possible that, as at Horncastle, this may have been a place where the youths gathered to play the old game of “Troy town”; but is more likely of British origin, a remnant of the Fenland Grirvii.  Troy Town is a hamlet near Dorchester, but there are several spots in Wales named Caer-troi, which means a bending, or tortuous town, a labyrinth, such as the Britons made with banks of turf.

We have now about done with Coningsby.  We are welcome to enter the rectory, where we notice the large arch, already referred to, of the former refectory.  Other objects of interest may be shewn us by the Rector, but we turn to the western window of the drawing-room to gaze upon a sight unparalleled.  Not a mile away there rises up before us the stately structure of Tattershall Castle, “the finest piece of brickwork in the kingdom”; and, close by, beneath, as it were, its sheltering wing, the collegiate church, almost, in its way, as grand an object.  L’appetit vient en mangeant; and, as we devour the prospect, we hunger and thirst for a closer acquaintance with their attractions.

Leaving Coningsby, and proceeding westward, we reach the bridge which spans the Horncastle canal.  Here we pause to turn round and take a look behind us eastward.  The massive tower of Coningsby rises far above the trees of the rectory precincts, themselves of a considerable height.  Looking along the canal, the eye rests upon a very Dutch-like scene; the sleepy waters of the so-called “Navigation” fringed by tall p. 228elms growing on its southern margin, and on its northern by decaying willows, studding the meadows, which are richly verdant from the damp atmosphere which it engenders; a slowly-crawling barge or two might formerly have been seen, with horse and driver on the towing path; but they are now things of the past.  The canal, on its opening in 1801, was expected to be a mine of wealth to the shareholder’s, but, having been ruined by the railway, it is now disused; in parts silted up and only a bed of water plants; in other parts its banks have given way, and the bed is dry.  Its only present utility is to add picturesqueness to a scene of still life.  Following the towing path westward, with the straggling street of Tattershall on the other side of the water, we reach what is called a “staunch,” a weir, over which the surplus carnal water discharges itself into what was the original channel of the river Bain, [228] which, between Horncastle and here, has been more than once utilised to replenish the canal.  Not far off, down this small stream, are some favourite haunts of the speckled trout; and beneath overhanging willows fine chub may be seen poising themselves in the water sleepily.  We now leave the towing path and enter the main street, with church and castle close at hand to our left, but first we will go a hundred yards to the right, and make for the Marketplace.  By the gift of “a well-trained hawk,” Robert Fitz-Eudo, in 1201, obtained from King John a charter for holding a weekly market; and the shaft and broad base of the market cross, bearing the arms of Cromwell, Tateshall, and D’Eyncourt, with a modern substitute for the cross on the top, still exists.  An old brick building, in a yard on the south side of the Market-place, now used for malting, is traditionally said to have been the original, and smaller, church, before the present one was erected in the 15th century.

As prefatory to our examination of both castle and church, we give here a brief notice of the owners of this barony, and the founder of both these erections.  Among the Norman knights who accompanied the Conqueror in his great venture against Harold for the throne of England,—p. 229and we can hardly help reflecting on the vast deviation in the stream of English history which would have followed if that “bow drawn at a venture” had not sent a shaft through the eye and brain of Harold at Hastings,—there were, as Camden tells us, [229a] two sworn brothers in arms, Eudo and Pinso, to whom William, as the reward of their prowess, assigned certain territories, to be held by them in common, as they had themselves made common cause in has service.  They subsequently divided these possessions, and the Barony of Tattershall, with Tattershall Thorpe and other appendages,—among them two-thirds of Woodhall,—fell to the share of Eudo.  He was succeeded, in due course, by his son, Hugh Fitz-Eudo, surnamed Brito, or, the Breton; who, in 1139 founded a monastery for Cistercian monks at Kirkstead.  The male line of this family continued for some eight generations.  His grandson Philip died, when sheriff of the county, in 1200; his great grandson Robert married, first, Lady Mabel, eldest sister and co-heir of Hugh de Albini, [229b] 5th Earl of Sussex and Arundel, represented now by the Dukes of Norfolk (Earls of Arundel), hereditary Earl-Marshals and Chief Butlers of England; and, secondly, a daughter of John de Grey.  This Robert obtained, in 1231, permission from Hen. III. to rebuild the family residence of stone.  As to this permission, it may be observed that castle-building had been carried on so extensively in the reign of Stephen, and the powerful barons, backed by their fortified residences, had proved themselves so formidable, that it was deemed politic to prevent further erections of this kind, except with the Royal licence. [229c]  This would be the first substantially-fortified structure at this place, but of this building there is not now left one stone upon another; views, however, of the castle, drawn by Buck, in 1727, shew that there were then remaining p. 230extensive buildings, whose style would seen to correspond with the date of this licence.  This Robert, having married two wives, who were heiresses, would be a wealthy and important personage; he died in 1249.  Two more Roberts succeeded in their turn; the second of them being summoned to Parliament, as 1st Baron de Tateshall, in 1297, died in the year following.  On the death of his grandson, another Robert, and 3rd Baron, without issue, in 1305, the estates reverted to his three aunts, Emma, Joan, and Isabella, the second of whom, married to Robert de Driby, inherited Tattershall.  Their two sons dying, the property again reverted to a female, viz., their daughter Alice, married to Sir William Bernak, Lord of Woodthorp, co. Lincoln, who died 1339.  His son, Sir John Bernak, married Joan, daughter and co-heir of Robert, 2nd Baron Marmyon, who died 1345; and, on the death of his two sons, the property, for a third time, passed to a female, in the person of his daughter Maude, who married Sir Ralph Cromwell.  He was summoned to Parliament as Baron Cromwell in 1375, and died in 1398.  His grandson, the 3rd Baron, also a Ralph, married Margaet, sister and co-heir of William, last Baron D’Eyncourt.  These several marriages with heiresses had largely augmented the estates and wealth of the successive families, and this Ralph, being made Lord Treasurer in 1433 by Henry VI., levelled the older castle to the ground, and, having obtained the Royal licence to rebuild, he erected the present majestic pile in 1440, at a cost, as William of Worcester informs us, [230] of 4,000 marks.  At this palatial residence, and in London, he lived in great state, his household consisting of 100 persons, and his suite, when he rode to London, commonly comprised 120 horsemen; his annual expenditure being £5,000.  In a previous chapter we quoted a charge made upon Lord Clinton, when living at Tattershall, for 1,000 faggots.  At Hurstmonceux Castle, a similar building to Tattershall, the oven is described by Dugdale (“Beauties of England—Sussex,” p. 206) as being 14ft. long.  In such a furnace the daily consumption of faggots would not be a trifle.

To speak here for a moment of building in brick.  From the ordinarily unsightly character of brick structures it is usual to regard brick-building disparagingly, but we have only to go to Italy, the hereditary land of Art in various p. 231forms, to see edifices unsurpassed for beauty in the world, which are constructed wholly, or in part, of brick.  The Cathedral at Cremona, with its delicately-moulded Rose windows and its Torrazo, 400ft. in height; those of St. Pantaleone, Pavia; of the Broletto, Brescia; or the Ducal Palace at Mantua, with its rich windows; or the Palazzo dei Signori at Verona, with tower 300ft. high; not to mention more, are all splendid specimens of what can be achieved in brick.  In England, nothing like these has ever been attempted; the only modern church of brick worth a mention is that of All Saints, Margaret Street, London, with its graceful spire.  In the 15th century, and slightly earlier, a few substantial and finely-constructed erections of brick were made, of which one of the earliest, if not the earliest, was the magnificent Gate Tower of Layer Marney in Essex, built by the 1st Lord Marney, and for which he is said to have imported Italian workmen for the moulded bricks.  Owing to his death the entire structure was not completed.  But the gateway, flanked by two octagonal towers, each of eight stories; and the summit, chimneys and divisions of windows, with their varied mouldings, are a very fine piece of work. [231a]  Another of these brick structures, of about the same date, was Torksey Castle, in our own county; another was Hurstmonceux Castle, in Sussex, said by Dugdale [231b] to be the only one at all rivalling Tattershall; while, by a curious coincidence, its founder was Sir Roger de Fiennes, one of the family, which, at a later period, owned Tattershall.

As we stand before Tattershall Castle and gaze on its stately proportions, we cannot but feel that brick, properly, treated, can rival stone.  What remains now is probably barely a third of what the building originally was, and stands, doubtless, on the site previously occupied by the Keep of the earlier castle.  It is a type of a particular stage of construction, when the palace was superseding the grim feudal fortress, although retaining several of the warlike features.  Besides an inner moat, completely surrounding the castle, there was also an outer one, protecting it on the north and west. [231c]  Both these moats were supplied with p. 232water from the river Bain, and they had an inter-connection by a cut on the north side of the castle, close by which there was a small machicolated tower, probably connected with a drawbridge.  On the space between the moats were buildings detached, serving for barracks, guardrooms, etc., and one of these, now used as a barn, opposite the north-west angle of the castle, is still fairly perfect.  The entrance to the inner castle court, on the north-east, was defended by a lofty gateway, with portcullis, and flanked by two turrets, which were still remaining when Buck’s drawings were made, in 1727.  This noble keep, in Treasurer Cromwell’s time, had at least five groups of noble buildings about it; so that we can now hardly conceive the imposing appearance of the whole.  What remains is 89ft. in length, by 67ft. in width, rising boldly into the air, slightly sloping inwards as it rises, to give a greater idea of height, until its turret parapets are found to be 112ft. from the ground; while its massive walls, the eastern one 16ft. thick at the base, are in keeping with its large proportions.  The variety of outline in the well-set windows, the shadow-casting angle turrets, and the massive machicolations, all serve to relieve the structure of monotony.  The red bricks, too, are varied by having others of a dark grey tint introduced in reticulated patterns, which relieve without being obtrusive.  As I have observed elsewhere, a geologist of experience states that both the bricks and the locally-termed grouting, or mortar, are alike made from local material. [232]  The covered gallery on the summit of the keep, surrounded by battlements, pierced with windows, and partly pendent over the machicolations, though said to be unique in this country, is a feature not uncommon in France and Germany.  The internal arrangement of four grand apartments, one above another, is similar to that of Kirkby Muxloe, but it is now difficult to assign to them their particular uses.  Nothing remains of these apartments beyond their windows, three beautiful stone mantelpieces, and two or three massive oak bauk-beams.  Of one of the latter, now gone, the writer has a rather gruesome p. 233recollection.  In the reckless hardihood of youth, there were few parts of the castle which were not reached by himself and his not less daring companions; and, in a moment of heedless adventure, on jackdaws’ eggs intent, he walked across one of these beams from the eastern gallery to the western wall, with nothing but empty space between him and the ground, 70 or 80 feet below.  He performed this feat safely, but a few days afterwards the beam fell.  At that time, in the forties, [233] three of the corner turrets had conical roofs covered with lead.  The writer’s name was cut in the lead of the most inaccessible of these, as well as on several other places, still to be seen.  The lead has been sold, and the roofs removed, long ago.  Within these roofs was a complicated network of supporting beams, crossing and re-crossing each other, among which pigeons, and even owls, nested.  A schoolfellow of the writer clambered up into one of these, bent on plunder, but the beams were too rotten to bear his weight, and he fell to the floor, some 15 or 18 feet, on to the hard bricks.  No bones, fortunately, were broken, but he sustained such a shock that he was confined to his bed for some weeks.  But a more remarkable escape occurred at a later date.  Visiting the castle, a dozen or more yeans ago, while the writer was looking down to the basement from the topmost gallery, close to the foot of the small staircase which leads to the flat roof of the south-eastern turret, the son of a farmer in the parish came up to him and said, in the most unconcerned manner, “Sir, my brother fell from here to the bottom yesterday.”  I replied, with surprise, “Was he not killed on the spot?”  “No,” was the answer, “he was only a little shaken.”  The boy, probably about 10 or 11 years old, was wearing a smock frock, loose below, but fastened fairly tight about the neck.  In search of eggs, I presume, he sprang across the open space below him, from the eastern gallery to a ledge running along the south wall, but, in attempting to do this, his shoulder struck the brickwork of the corner turret, which spun him round, and he fell.  His smock frock, however, filled with air, and buoyed him up, thus checking the rapidity of his descent, and he alighted on the ground upon a heap of small sticks and twigs dropped by the jackdaws, and the result was p. 234little more than a severe shaking.  We have noticed the handsome mantelpieces, which are referred to and engraved in several publications.  They are ornamented with the Treasurer’s purse and the motto “N’ai j’ droit,” and other heraldic devices of the Tattershall, Driby, Bernak, Cromwell, D’Eyncourt, Grey of Rotherfield, and Marmyon families, a study for the genealogist.  Nor may we forget the vaulted gallery on the third floor, with bosses of cement and beautifully-moulded brickwork in its roof.  This fine old ruin has not only suffered from the ravages of time, but the elements have also played havoc with it.  On March 29, 1904, at 2.30 p.m., in a violent thunderstorm, it was struck by lightning.  The “bolt” fell on the north-east corner tower, hurling to the ground, inside and outside, massive fragments of the battlemented parapet.  The electric fluid then passed downward, through the building, emerging by a window of the third storey, in the western side, tearing away several feet of masonry, and causing a great rent in the solid wall beneath.  The writer inspected the damage within a few days of the occurrence, and was astonished at the violence of the explosion.

After the extinction of the Cromwell line the estates probably reverted to the Crown, as we find that Henry VII. granted the manor of Tattershall, and other properties, to his mother, Margaret, Countess of Richmond; and in the following year he entailed them on the Duke.  On the Duke dying without issue, Henry VIII., in 1520, granted these properties to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, by letters patent, which were confirmed by Ed. VI. in the year 1547.  On the deaths of the two infant sons of the Duke, shortly after the father’s decease, Ed. VI., in 1551, granted the estate to Edward, Lord Clinton and Saye, afterwards Earl of Lincoln, whose descendant, Edward, died without issue in 1692, when the property passed to his cousin Bridget, who married Hugh Fortescue, Esq., whose son Hugh was created Baron Fortescue and Earl Clinton in 1746; and the estates have continued in that family ever since.

We now pass to the church.  As the castle was a sample of transition from the feudal fortress to the baronial palace, so the church, although of the Perpendicular order, is not quite of the purest type, being of the later Perpendicular period.  Begun by the Treasurer Cromwell, it was not completed at his death in 1455, but the work was carried on and finished by his executors, one of whom was William of Wykeham, p. 235Bishop of Winchester, the most famous building prelate of his time.  It has been noticed, by competent judges, that there is “a remarkable resemblance in points of detail, in the churches built or enlarged by Ralph, Lord Cromwell, at Colly Weston, Northants; Lambley, Notts.; and Tattershall,” as is the case with other groups of edifices erected by the same parties.  (“Archæolog. Journ.,” No. 12, 1846, pp. 291–2.)  It was established as a collegiate institution, with provision for a provost, six priests, six secular clerks, and six choristers.  Dedicated to the Trinity, it is a noble stone structure, in shape cruciform, with nave, aisles, and north and south transepts, chancel, north and south porches, and tower at the west end.  There were formerly cloisters on the south side, but they were demolished.  The tower is supported by buttresses, having six breaks reaching to the base of the embattled parapet, and angle pinnacles, with a square-headed west door; on the whole it is rather heavy.  The best external feature of the church is the clerestory.  Internally the nave has six lofty bays with very slender pillars and a low-pitched roof.  It is very spacious.  It has been recently supplied with chairs, and the old pulpit revived.  But for many years the chancel was the only part used for services, and, indeed, as regards accommodation, the only part needed.  The chancel is separated from the nave by a very unusual arrangement,—a massive stone rood screen, the upper part of which was, some years ago, used as the singing gallery; and a former old female verger used to refer, with keen enthusiasm, to the time when, under the late Mr. Richard Sibthorpe’s ministrations (whose perversions and reversions between Romanism and Anglicanism were, at the least, remarkable), this gallery reverberated with the inspiring strains of the fiddle, the trombone, the hautboy, the clarionet (“harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer”), and other kinds of music, to the hearty enjoyment of all.  This massive screen was the gift of a member of the collegiate body, one Robert de Whalley, in 1528.  Little survives of the original choir but some stalls and sedilia.  In the north transept, removed, for preservation, from their original positions, are some of the finest brasses in the county; only half, however, of the once very fine brass of the Treasurer Cromwell and his wife remains, remarkable for the ape-like “wild men” on which his feet rest; and in the course of years, since Gervase Holles wrote his “Notes p. 236on Churches” (1642), no less than 14 brasses have disappeared, and only 7 now remain.  Gough, in his account, says that, on the brass of Maud Willoughby (1497), one of the small figures, with book and keys, at the side is inscribed “Sta Scytha.”  St. Osyth was the daughter of Frewald, a Mercian prince, was born at Quarrenden, Bucks., and became the virgin wife of an East Anglian king.  She is a saint not often mentioned.  “Sithe Lane (says Stow the historian) at the east end of Watling Street, London, is known as St. Scythe’s Lane, so called of St. Sithe’s church.” [236]  The windows of this church were originally filled with beautiful stained glass of the Perpendicular period, much of which survived the barbarism of the Commonwealth, only to be removed by Earl Fortescue in 1757, and presented to the Earl of Exeter for St. Martin’s church in Stamford, where some of it may still be seen, more or less damaged by transit.  This spoliation so enraged the parishioners that they, with some justification, raised a riot to prevent it; and the glass was only, it is said, got away under cover of night.  For 50 years afterwards the windows of the chancel remained unglazed, and being thus exposed to the weather, the finely carved oak stalls, rich screens, and other ornamental work, fell into a state of decay.  The chancel was restored several years ago, and fitted up in a neat, plain manner by the present Lord Fortescue, at a cost of £800, £1,000 being further spent on the nave.  Some very interesting fragments of the old glass were collected, and they are now chiefly in the east window.  In both transepts are piscinas, shewing that they were formerly used as chapels.  The north transept was enriched by Edward Hevyn, the agent of Margaret Countess of Richmond, as was evidenced by “a fayre marble within it,” when Holles visited the church, bearing this inscription:

Have mercy on ye soule, good Lord, we thee pray
Of Edward Hevyn, laid here in sepulture.
Which, to their honour, this chappell did array
With ceiling, deske, perclose, portrayture,
And pavement of marble long to endure
Servant of late to the excellent Princess,
Mother of King Henry, of Richmond Countess.

p. 237As this is not intended to be a complete guide to the church, and all its beauties, but rather to whet the appetite of the visitor to investigate them further for himself, I shall only make some detailed remarks upon the brass of Lord Treasurer Cromwell and his wife, which, while entire, was a fine typical specimen.  A good engraving of it, from a drawing preserved at Revesby Abbey and made for Sir Joseph Banks, is given in “Lincolnshire Notes & Queries” (vol. iii., p. 193); a description is also given there, taken, it would seem, from the “Notes” of Gervase Holles, as follows:—Cromwell, with hands in prayer, is in armour of plain cuirass, with very short skirt of ‘taces,’ to the lower end of which are strapped a pair of ‘tuiles,’ or thigh-pieces, pendent over the cuisses genouillieres, jointed with mail, and having edged plates fastened to them above and below, long pointed ‘sollerets’ of plate armour, and rowell spurs, very large condieres, cuffed gauntlets of overlapping plates, with little scales to protect each finger separately; sword hanging from his waist in front by a strap; over all a mantle, once thought to be that of the Order of the Garter, but now supposed to be the official robe of Lord Treasurer, reaching to the ground behind, and fastened by cords which spring from rose-like ornaments, with long pendent tasselled ends.  The support of the feet are two “Wodehowses,” or hairy wild men, armed with clubs.  On the remaining portion of the canopy pier, on the right, is the figure of St. Peter, in a cope, wearing the tiara, a key in his left hand and a crozier in the right, with canopied niche.  In another, above, is a figure of St. Maurice, in armour of the 15th century, in his right hand a halbert, and in his left a sword.  Corresponding with these, on the left, is a figure of St. George, in similar armour, thrusting his lance into the dragon’s mouth.  Above is the figure of St. Cornelius, holding a bannered spear in his left hand, and a sword in his right.  The lost saints were on the right, St. Barbara, St. Hubert, and another, not known; on the left, St. Thomas of Canterbury, the Virgin, St. John Baptist, St. Anne with the Virgin kneeling, and a Saint with short spear and ring, probably Edward the Confessor.  Beneath the two wild men is the inscription:—

Hic jacet nobilis Baro, Radulphus Cromwell,
Miles, dux de Cromwell, quondam Thesaurius Angliæ, et
Fundator hujus collegii, cum inclita consorte sua,
p. 238Una herede dni Dayncourt, qui quidm
Radulphus obiit quarto die mens Januarii, ano dni
Milio cccc, et p’dicta Margaretta obiit xv die
Septebv, ano dni milio cccc quor. aiab. p. piture Deus.  Amen.

Men rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.  The founder has passed away, and the college also is no more; and the once richly-endowed benefice is now little better than a starveling.  But the humble Bede-houses, connected with the college, still remain.

One only further record can we give of Tattershall.  Most places have had their characters.  Tradition avers, and not so long ago either, that a certain worthy farmer, living in the neighbourhood, used to ride into Tattershall, almost nightly, to his hostel, to play his game of cards with certain boon companions.  It was before our toll-bars were abolished, and there stood, near Tattershall bridge, a toll-bar with gate made formidable by a chevaux de frise of iron spikes.  At times the play ran high, and our friend would return home without a coin in his pocket wherewith to pay toll.  But he was well-mounted, and on a moonlight night he would not hesitate to obviate the difficulty by taking the toll-bar at full speed and landing safely on four legs beyond it.  Although I cannot set my seal to this tradition, yet, from the style in which he would follow the hounds, I can well believe that not even a toll-bar, spikes and all, would debar him from his “long clay” and glass of wholesome “home-brewed” by his own fireside as a “night-cap.” [238]

We now bid adieu to Tattershall, prepared, presumably, to endorse the verdict of a writer p. 239in the “Quarterly Review,” that the castle is indeed “the finest redbrick tower in the kingdom,” [239a] and the best example, except, perhaps, Hurstmonceux, of what good brickwork is capable of in architecture; and, further, that the church is not unworthy of a place beside it; and it is not a little remarkable that William of Waynfleet, who completed it, also built the most beautiful college in the world, viz., that of Magdalen, Oxford.

Our itinerary is now approaching its conclusion, yet we shall finish with a bonne bouche.  We turn our faces northward, and, passing by land still called “Tattershall park,” though now under cultivation and broken up into fields; and, where formerly were two ancient encampments, British or Roman, but now obliterated, a walk of some three miles brings us in view of a tall fragment of stone-work, two fields distant on our left.  This is the last remaining portion of Kirkstead Abbey.  It is now some 50 feet high and 18 feet, or so, in width, but an engraving by Buck gives it as at least double that width; and the writer has conversed with a man whose father was labouring in the Abbey field when he noticed some cattle, which had been standing under the shade of the ruin, suddenly galloping away in alarm, and immediately afterwards a large portion of the stonework collapsed, and, with a loud crash, fell to the ground, leaving the relic much about the size which we see now.

There are mounds and hollows about the Abbey field which show how extensive the buildings at one time were, covering several acres; and a canal can be traced which had connection with the River Witham, which is two fields distant. [239b]  We here give a brief account of the Abbey.  The manor of Kirkstead was given by the Conqueror, along with that of Tattershall, as above stated, to the Norman soldier, Eudo; and his son, Hugh Fitz-Eudo, surnamed Brito, founded here a Cistercian monastery, in 1139, dedicated to the Virgin.  The Abbey was very richly endowed from more than one source.  The Harleyan MSS. (144) give a full account of its possessions (29 Henry VIII.).  Its lands were situated in the city of Lincoln, and in Horncastle, p. 240Nocton, Blankney, Branston, Metheringham, Canwick, Sheepwash, Billingham, Thimbleby (where the Abbot had gallows), Langton, Coningsby, South Langton, Scampton, Holton, Thornton, Stretton, Wispington, Strutby, Martin, Sudthorpe, Roughton, Haltham, Benniworth, Hedingley, Woodhall (with the advowson), Wildmore Fen (45,000 acres), etc., besides property in the parishes of St. Andrew, Holborn, St. Botolph, Aldersgate, and St. Nicholas, in the city of London; and the further advowsons of the benefices of Covenham and Thimbleby.  The Abbots exercised the rights of hunting, fowling and fishing; an old Cartulary of the Abbey [240a] states that “Robert son of Simon de Driby . . . grants to the Abbot of Kirkstead to have their ‘mastiffs’ in his warren of Tumby all times of the year, with their shepherds, to take and retake their beasts in the said warren, without any contradiction of the said Robert or his heirs.”  “Witness Robert, son of Walter de Tatessal.”  The demesne in Wildmore was granted to the Abbey by Baron Robert Marmyon of Scrivelsby, and William de Romara, Earl of Lincoln, jointly, on condition that he should not allow any other parties to pasture on the lands, but only themselves and their tenants. [240b]  This William de Romara also founded the Abbey of Revesby in the 8th year of Stephen, and both to that Abbey and to Kirkstead he granted a Hermitage in Wildmore; and to show the power of the Abbots of Kirkstead, it is recorded that when, in course of time, Ralph de Rhodes, “the Lord of Horncastle,” succeeded to the manorial rights in Wildmore, he, contrary to the grants of his predecessors, “did bring in the said Wildmore other men’s cattell”; thereupon a plea of covent was sued against him by the Abbot of Kirkstead, with the result that a “fyne” was acknowledged by the said “Ralfe de Rhodes.”  Similarly, a Marmyon, successor of the one who made the grant, “contrary to the graunt of his ancestors, did bring into Wildmore other men’s cattell, whereupon a like plea of covent was sued against him.”  And in both these cases these secular lords had to yield to the Abbot.  “From which time,” the old Record states, “the said Abbots have bene Lords of Wildmore, and peaceably and quietly have enjoyed the same as true Lords thereof, without impedimte of any man.” [240c]

p. 241These successes, however, seem to have elated the spirit of the Abbots of this monastery, and to have led them, in the pride of power, not always to have due regard for the rights of others.  As early as the reign of Edward I., it was complained, before Royal Commissioners, that the Abbot was guilty of sundry encroachments; that he obstructed passengers on the King’s highway; [241a] that he made ditches for his own convenience which flooded his neighbours’ lands; and that, from his power, inferior parties could get no redress; [241b] that he prevented the navigation of the Witham by any vessels but his own; [241c] that he trespassed on the King’s prerogative by seizing “waifs and strays” over the whole of Wildmore; [241d] that he had hanged various offenders at Thimbleby; had appropriated to himself, without licence, the assize of bread and beer. [241e]  Further, he refused to pay, on certain lands, the impost called “Sheriff’s aid,” [241f] or to do suit and service for his land, either in the King’s Court or that of the Bishop of Carlisle at Horncastle. [241g]  Against none of which charges does it appear that he returned any satisfactory answer.  Yet, while thus acting with a high hand, he was not above worldly traffic on a considerable scale, as is shewn by certain Patent Rolls, [241h] where a note is given to the effect that, on May 1st, 1285, a licence was granted, at Westminster, for three years, “for the Abbot of Kirkstead to buy wool throughout the county of Lincoln, in order to satisfy certain merchants, to whom he is bound in certain sacks of wool, his own sheep having failed through murrain;” while it was further alleged that he carried on an extensive system of smuggling, whereby it was calculated that some £2,000 a year were lost to the corporation of Lincoln.  Proceedings like these do not give us a very favourable impression as to the virtues of these spiritual lords, their charity, or their standard of morality.  Yet, on the other hand, we have to make allowance for the times and circumstances in which they lived.  I quote here a letter written by a Lincolnshire man who had viewed matters from the different standpoints of an Anglican and a Romanist. [241i]  p. 242“You say ‘the monks were not saints.’  I have no doubt but a small proportion were.  Yet, taking them as a whole, the wonder is they were as respectable as they were.  It is not enough considered what the monastic life was for several centuries.  It was the refuge of hundreds and thousands who could find no other occupation.  There was no Navy as a profession; the Army was not, in the sense we understand it, a profession.  Law and medicine were very restricted.  What were men to do with themselves?  How to pass life?  Where to go to live?  There was next to no education, no books hardly to read.  How can we wonder that the mass of monks were a very common kind of men, professedly very religious, of necessity formally so, but taking their duties as lightly as they could?  The number of them who outraged their vows was wonderfully small.  The Inquisitions of Henry VIII.’s time, atrociously partial, as they were, to find blame, found comparatively little.  Compare the monks of those days with the Fellows of Colleges in the last (18th) century, and down almost to our own day.  Were the former much lower in morals, if at all?  Less religious, if at all?  I think not.”  Nor should we forget their unbounded hospitality, in an age when there were few inns for the traveller, and no Poor Law for the destitute; their skill in horticulture and agriculture, which were a national benefit; or their maintenance of roads and bridges; apart from their guardianship of the Scriptures, and their witness to Christianity.  It has been said, “From turret and tower sounded the well-known chime, thrice a day, to remind the faithful of the Incarnation, and its daily thrice-repeated memorial” (F. G. Lee, “Pilgrimage of Grace”).  The poor were never forgotten in these multiplied services.  When mass was celebrated, it was a rule that the sacristan rang the “sanctus” bell (from its cherished sanctity often the only bell still preserved in our village churches), “so that the rustics who could not be present might everywhere, in field or home, be able to bow the knee to reverence” (Maskell’s “Ancient Liturgy,” p. 95.  “Constit.,” J. Peckham, a.d. 1281).  If the strict rules of their continuous services were occasionally relaxed by exhilarating sport, or even, as the monks of Kirkstead are said to have done, by frequenting fairs, as at Horncastle, their abbots presiding at the pastimes of the people, [242] the Maypole processions p. 243and dances; or getting up mystery-plays, or other exhibitions, perpetuated still at Nuremberg, where our most cultivated Christians go to witness them; surely these were comparatively harmless recreations.  It must, however, be recognised that, in time, prosperity had its usual corrupting effects.  The Aukenleck MS. (temp. Ed. II.) says, “these Abbots and Priors do again their rights.  They ride with hawk and hounds, and counterfeit knights.”  As the Bishop of Ely attended divine service, leaving his hawk on its perch in the cloister, where it was stolen, and he solemnly excommunicated the thief; or as the Bishop of Salisbury was reprimanded for hunting the King’s deer; or as Bishop Juxon was so keen a sportsman that he was said to have the finest pack of hounds in the kingdom; [243a] so the Abbott of Bardney had his hunting box, and the Abbots of Kirkstead excluded others from sporting on their demesnes, that they might reserve the enjoyment for themselves.  It is stated by Hallam (“History of the Middle Ages”) that, in 1321, “the Archbishop of York carried a train of 200 persons, maintained at the expense of the monasteries, on his road, and that he hunted with a pack of hounds, from parish to parish”; and such an example would naturally be contagious.  But it was only when long-continued indulgence and immunity had pampered them to excess, that laxity of morals became flagrant or general.  And even when of this very Kirkstead it is recorded that, at the time of the Dissolution, the Abbot, Richard Haryson (1535) was fain to confess, in the deed of surrender, that the monks had, “under the shadow of their rule, vainly detestably, and ungodlily devoured their yearly revenues in continual ingurgitations of their carrion bodies, and in support of their over voluptuous and carnal appetites.” [243b]  We cannot but suspect that such language was that of their enemies, put into their mouths, when resistance was no longer possible.  They had, p. 244however, through long ages, acquired a powerful hold on the respect and affection of the people, and there were hundreds and thousands who were ready to say, what one once said of his country,

England! with all thy faults, I love thee still. [244a]

That the many virtues and the value of the monasteries came to be recognised by many after they were abolished is shewn by the “Pilgrimage of Grace,” and similar indications of smouldering discontent among the people whom they had long benefited.  Yet there was always the danger arising from the perfunctory observance of multiplied services, that the “opus operatum” might oust the living faith; and there can be little doubt that such a result had largely come about.  Though greed and plunder were the main motive of the Royal Executioner and his agents, the parties who suffered had certainly become only fitting subjects for drastic measures.  But we pass from this digressive disquisition to the one interesting relic of Kirkstead Abbey which is still spared to us, in the little chapel standing in the fields, with reference to which I will here quote the words of a writer to whom I have referred before. [244b]  He says, “A mile away from Woodhall is one of the loveliest little gems of architecture in the country, a pure, little, Early English church, now dreadfully dilapidated, which belonged, in some unexplained way,—probably as a chantry chapel,—to the Cistercian Abbey of Kirkstead.”  As this little gem is now locked away from public view, I will here give extracts from the description of it given by the late Bishop Suffragan, Dr. Edwd. Trollope, one of our greatest authorities, on the occasion of the Architectural Society’s visit to it a few years ago; and which was handed to me by him at the time.  They are worthy of careful examination.

“The situation of this lovely little chapel, on the south side of the Abbey of Kirkstead, and without its precincts, is most remarkable.  It has been surmised that it may have served as the Abbot’s private chapel, or for the use of the Abbey tenants; but I can scarcely think that either of these suggestions is likely to be true, as such a chapel, so far from the monastic building, and without its protecting girdle, would not have been convenient for the Abbot’s use, and such an elaborately-ornamented structure p. 245would scarcely have been erected simply for the monastic churls.  Had it been nearer the other buildings, and especially the great Abbey church, we might have thought it had served as the Chapter-House, on which much pains was always bestowed by the Cistercians, so that, in richness of design, this usually ranked second only to the church itself.  I am inclined, however, to suggest that it was a chantry chapel, put under the protection of the Abbey and served by its inmates according to the Will of one of the former wealthy lords of Tattershall and Kirkstead, whose burial place it eventually became.

“This beautiful little structure consists of an unbroken oblong, supported by plain buttresses, insufficient to shore up its side walls and bear the weight of its vaulted roof.  A plain plinth constitutes the footing of the structures, above which is a bold boutel string, below the window sills, and it is surmounted by quarter round corbels which originally supported a corbel table and a higher pitched roof than the present one, not long ago (in the forties), covered with thatch.  The side windows consist of very narrow little lancets.  At the east end is a triplet, and at the west end structural ornaments of a most beautiful kind have been most lavishly supplied.  Owing to the loss of the gables of this chapel, and its present hipped roof, its appearance at a distance does not promise much, but, when approached, the remarkable beauty of its design, and especially of its western elevation, will most assuredly command admiration.

“From its own architectural evidence we may safely assume that it was built during the first quarter of the 13th century, and it nearly resembles the contemporary work in the north transept of Lincoln Cathedral.  The western facade is supported by a buttress on the south, and a larger buttress on the north in the shape of a staircase turret, the upper portion of which is now lost.  Between these is one of the most lovely doorways imaginable.  Its jambs are first enriched by an inner pair of pillars, having caps from which spring vigorously, and yet most delicately, carved foliage; and then, after a little interval, two more pairs of similar pillars, carrying a beautifully-moulded arch, one member of which is enriched with the tooth mould.  Above this lovely doorway, in which still hangs the co-eval, delicately-ironed oak door, is an arcade of similar work, in the centre of which is a pointed oval window of beautiful design; but, p. 246through the loss of the gable above, this elevation is sadly marred.  In the north wall, close to the west end, is a semi-circular-headed doorway, similar in general character to the western one, but plainer.  Its arched head, however, is charmingly moulded, and has the tooth ornament worked upon its inner chamfer.

“Within, is a still more beautiful sight than without, for the whole of the interior is, in every respect, admirable.

“A bold, boutel string runs round the walls about five feet from the ground, and from this, at intervals, rise dwarf shafts surmounted by most delicately carved caps, the foliation, of which almost looks as if it might expand, and yield to the breeze.  These serve as supporters to vaulting principals, enriched with the tooth ornament, dividing the roof vaulting into four squares, having large circular foliated bosses in the middle, on the easternmost of which is also carved the holy Lamb and bannered cross.

“In each bay of the side walls is a pair of lancet windows, except in the westernmost one of the north wall, where the north doorway takes the place of one of these, and close to this, in the west wall, is a little doorway giving access to the turret staircase.  The triplet at the east end is simply exquisite.  This consists of a central lancet and a smaller one on either side, between which rise lovely clustered and handed pillars, enriched with flowing foliated caps, supporting, with the aid of corresponding responds enriched by the tooth ornament, lovely moulded arches, on which the nail head ornament is used.

“Towards the east end of the south wall is a piscina, having a triangular head and shelf groove.  Towards the west end, on the north side, are portions of some very valuable woodwork, apparently co-eval with the chapel itself.  These probably constituted the lower part of a rood screen, and consist of slender pillars, supporting lancet-headed arcading.  They are now used as divisions between the seating, and are most noteworthy. [246]  There is p. 247also a respectable canopied pulpit, of the time of James I., but scarcely worthy of the worship it seems to invite, from its peculiar position at the east end of the chapel.

“I must now refer more particularly to a sepulchral effigy in the chapel.  The lower portion of this is lost, and the remainder is now reared up against the south wall.  This represents a knight in a hauberk of mail covered by a surcoat, and drawing his sword slightly out of its sheath, pendent on his left.  At a low level on the right is his shield, and over his coife de maille, or mail hood, covering his head, is a cylindrical helm, slightly convex at the top, having narrow bands crossing it in front, the horizontal one, which is wider than the other, or vertical one, being pierced with ocularia, or vision-slits, but destitute of breathing holes below.  The head, thus doubly protected, rests upon a small pillow, from which spring branches of conventional foliage.  These helms began to be worn about the opening of the 13th century; to which breathing holes were added about 1225.  Thus the armour of this knightly effigy exactly coincides in date with the architecture of the chapel in which it still remains, and it may well have served to commemorate Robert de Tattershall and Kirkstead, who died 1212.”

To these remarks of the Bishop I here add some valuable observations made by Mr. Albert Hartshorne, F.S.A., in a Paper read before the Archæological Institute, [247] and reprinted for private circulation, on “Kirkstead Chapel, and a remarkable monumental effigy there preserved.”  He says: “Reared against the south wall at the west end is a monumental effigy in Forest marble, larger than life, of a man in the military costume of the first quarter of the 13th century.  He wears a cylindrical helm, a hauberk, apparently hooded, a short surcote, and a broad cingulum.  The left arm is covered by a ponderous shield, and he draws a sword in a scabbard.  He wears breeches of mail, but the legs, from the knees downward, are missing.  The head rests upon a cushion, supported by conventional foliage.  The occurrence of a cylindrical flat-topped helm in monumental p. 248sculpture is, of itself, sufficiently rare to merit a notice.  There are two examples of it at Furness Abbey, two at Chester-le-street, one at Staindrop, and one at Walkern,—seven only in all, so far as appears to be known.  They occur in the seals of Hen. III., Edward I., Alexander II. of Scotland, and Hugh de Vere.  Actual examples of such headpieces are certainly of the utmost rarity.  There is a very genuine one in the Tower, and another at Warwick Castle.  Some sham ones were in the Helmet and Mail Exhibition, held in the rooms of the Institute in 1880, and are suitably exposed in the illustrated catalogue of this interesting collection.”  “Banded mail,” as it is called, has been one of the archæological difficulties “of the past and present generations, and the late Mr. Burges took great trouble in endeavouring to unravel the mystery of its construction . . . having casts made from the only four then known . . . effigies (with it) at Tewkesbury, Tollard Royal, Bedford, and Newton Solney; but . . . he had to confess, in the end, that he could make nothing satisfactory of it.  Here, at Kirkstead, is the fifth known sculptured example of banded mail in the kingdom, and . . . it is the earliest example of all . . . it resembles most the Newton Solney type; but I can throw no light upon the mail’s construction, though I have long considered the subject, and must leave the matter as I found it, twenty years ago, a mystery.  If we are to suppose, as the Bishop Suffragan has suggested, that a local lord built Kirkstead chapel, then I am disposed to think, with him, that that lord was Robert de Tattershall and Kirkstead, who died in 1212.  The date of that chapel may certainly be of about the same period, namely, a little after the time of St. Hugh of Lincoln, and co-eval with the Early English work of the second period in Lincoln Cathedral.  The effigy may very well have been set up to the memory of Robert de Tattershall, a few years after his death.”

So far the Bishop and Mr. Hartshorne.  We have only to add that, some time in the forties, certain alterations were made, such as removing the thatched roof and covering it with slates, taking away much rotten timber and replacing it with fresh.  Some so-called “unsightly beams” were also removed, but they had probably been introduced at a very early period, and it was, probably, also mainly due to them that the walls had not fallen further outward than they had done.  Whereas now, without any such support, and with the massive stone roof p. 249pressing upon them, the destruction of the building must be only a question of time, and that not a very long one, unless some remedy is applied.  I have a note, from Baron Hubner’s “Travels through the British Empire,” [249] that “when the town of Melbourne, in Australia, in 1836, was yet a small scattered village, with wooden houses, wooden church, &c., a tree was the belfry.”  At that same period the bell of Kirkstead chapel also hung in a tree, still standing at the south-west corner of the churchyard.  Climbing up, a few years ago, to examine the bell, I found the following, cut in the lead under the bell turret: “Thomas Munsall, Nottingham, August, 1849; Edward Gadsby, Nottingham, Aug., 1849.  George Whitworth (of Kirkstead), Joiner.”  The two former slated the roof, and the last was the local carpenter.  The history of this church in modern times, as a place of worship, has bean peculiar.  The estate, having been bestowed upon the Fiennes Clintons by Henry VIII., passed, in the 18th century, by marriage, to the Disneys and the benefice, being a Donative and, therefore, almost private property, Mr. Daniel Disney, being a Presbyterian, appointed a minister of that persuasion to officiate; also endowing it with lands which produced a stipend of £30 a year in 1720.  This gift was confirmed by his Will.  Presbyterian ministers continued to hold it till the death of a Mr. Dunkley in 1794.  The manor had then been sold to the Ellison family, and a suit was instituted to recover the benefice to the Church of England; the case was tried at Lincoln Assizes in 1812, when, by a compromise, the fabric was restored to the Church of England; but the Presbyterian endowment remained in the hands of trustees, who subsequently erected a Presbyterian chapel at Kirkstead, and in more recent times, a manse was built in connection with it, now occupied by the Rev. R. Holden.  Dr. John Taylor, of Norwich, was one of the ministers appointed by Mr. Disney.  He held it some 18 years, from 1715, and here composed his Concordance, in 2 vols.  In 1876 the church was visited by the Architectural Society, when, in consequence of its dangerous condition, it was closed by order of the Bishop, awaiting restoration, and it awaits it still.

Of this interesting structure no one can get any view of the interior beyond (strange to say) what can be seen through the keyhole.  May we hope that the Rontgen Rays may soon be sufficiently p. 250developed to enable us to photograph it through the boards of the ancient door, the hinges of which, we may add, are worthy of notice.  I conclude these remarks upon it with the words of a former owner, [250a] who was inspired to write of it thus:—

This ancient chanel!  Still the House of God,
And boasting still the consecrated sod,
’Neath which, where ancient oaks, wide-spreading, shade,
The rude forefathers of the place were laid.
Fair, too, as ancient, is that holy place,
Its walls and windows richest traceries grace;
While clusters of the lightest columns rise,
And beauties all unlooked for, there surprise.
’Twas well, when Ruin smote the neighbouring Pile,
It spared this humbler Beauty to defile.
. . . . . . . . .
O!  ’Tis a gem of purest taste, I ween,
Though little it be known, and seldom seen.

The writer may add that he has himself twice made strenuous efforts, backed most earnestly by the late Bishop Wordsworth, and has sent out many hundreds of appeals for aid, to prevent this little gem going to ruin; but, owing to apathy and indifference, where they should not have been found, those efforts proved futile.  He can only reiterate the warning words of Mr. Albert Hartshorne:—“I know not whether such aid will be forthcoming; but of two things I am quite certain: if nothing is done the chapel must collapse, and that very soon; and when it does so fall, it will become such an utter ruin that it would be quite impossible to put it up again.” [250b]

One more historical incident, of more than local interest, may here just be mentioned.  It has already been stated that after the Dissolution the Abbey lands were granted by Henry VIII. to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and that, on the death of his issue the King granted them to the Fiennes Clinton family, in the person of Lord Clinton and Saye, afterwards Earl of Lincoln.  In this family they remained for several generations, until by marriage they passed to the Disneys.  In the time of the unhappy King Charles I., families were often divided, one party remaining true to the Sovereign, and a relative espousing the cause of the Commonwealth.  But Henry Clinton, alias Fynes, remained staunch to his King, providing horse and arms for the Royalist cause.  This, no doubt, brought him not a few enemies; and in p. 251consequence he had the great compliment paid him of being granted a deed of “Protection” by his grateful sovereign.  We cannot give the whole here, but it is entitled “Protection of Mr. Henry Fynes & his Wyfe.”

“(Endorsed) by Major Markham of ye Lyfeguards,” and is headed “Charles R . . . whereas Wee are informed that Henry Fynes of Christed Abbey . . . and his wyfe are, and have been, in all these rebellious times, persons very loyall and well affected to us and our service, wee are graciously pleased to grant them this our speciall Protection, &c., &c. . . . given at our Court at Oxford ye 7th day of February, 1643.”  A fac-simile copy of the original is given in “Linc. N. & Q.,” vol. i. (1889), p. 22.

To any of his kith and kin who may still be living among us, and they are not few, it may be a pleasure and a pride to reflect that their ancestor “of Christed” shewed himself a true man in times when it needed some courage to do so.  None of them could have a better motto to abide by, in all things, than that of the head of the House, “Loyaltè n’a honte,” Loyalty is not ashamed.

Our lengthy peregrinations have now brought us, once more, within a mile of Woodhall Spa; thither let us proceed, “rest and be thankful.”

* * * * *

And now, gentle readers, it would seem we have arrived at a fitting “period, or full stop,” in our somewhat arduous undertaking; and here we might well shake hands and finally part company,—we would fain hope, with a hearty “au revoir.”

I find myself much in the mood of the Alpine guide who feels that he has had more than one long day with his trusty alpenstock, although with a willing heart in the work, and, we might say, even proud that he has been able to show his party through so many attractive scenes.  He stands, as it were, before them, hat in hand [251] awaiting the “pour boire,” the due recompense of his services.  Freely he has given, freely he hopes to receive, that he may retire to his quiet châlet on the hill, where he may rest awhile, till perchance he finds a fresh engagement.  But, at this juncture, he is accosted by one of the party to this effect: “Mon cher Guide Walder, you have taken us through more than one enjoyable round in your p. 252interesting country.  We have looked with pleasure upon many a long vista in the past, and on many a wide-spreading prospect of varied character.  You have, indeed, given us a bonne-bouche, to finish with, in Kirkstead, but we would ask, ‘Why have you omitted Somersby, Somersby not so very far away, and hallowed as the birth-place of the Bard of the Century, who is reckoned as one of the High Priests of Poesy, wherever our English tongue is spoken?’”  We confess the omission.  Our apology is, that our excursions have already, in the more immediate neighbourhood, been only too long.  As to Somersby, as its associations are sui generis, so it lies in a direction of its own; not easily to be combined with other places of interest; but the fault can be remedied.  Quid multa?  A short supplementary excursion is arranged; and we are to muster on the morrow for the last, but not least, of our Looks at Lincolnshire.


In the year 1890, an enthusiastic Tennysonian, giving an account in the “Globe” newspaper, of an excursion to Somersby, which he approached from Louth, says that he was somewhat disgusted to find that his Jehu, though familiar with every ragamuffin on the road, and with the gossip and traditions of the villages through which they passed, had never heard the name of Tennyson.  Somersby itself, at the time when Tennyson there enjoyed ramble and reverie, was so withdrawn from the outer world that it is said that the battle of Waterloo was not heard of there until a month after it had been fought.  But all this has now been changed, and is changing.  Not long ago, the proprietor of Somersby (now, alas! an absentee), complained to the writer that his carpets were being worn into holes by the feet of the many pilgrims to this modern poetic “Mecca,” who seemed to think they had a right freely to intrude everywhere; with the barren compensation to himself that his paternal home was becoming historical.  Sympathising fully with the country squire whose privacy has been thus invaded, we are now ourselves about to make the pilgrimage, which may soon be as common as that to the birthplace of the immortal Bard of Avon.

Having arrived at Horncastle by train, or otherwise, we pass through the town, by Market-place, Bull Ring, and over the far bridge, where we turn due eastward, by East street.  At the end of a mile p. 253or so we arrive at High Toynton, with a modern church of Spilsby sandstone on our right, in good condition, but of no special interest; here we turn to the left, and 100 yards further on, again eastward to the right.  We are now on the Wolds, and have before us a steady rise, followed by three steepish descents with their corresponding rises, till, as we approach Holbeck Hall, we see before us, to the left, a hill in the shape of an obtuse truncated cone.  This is Hoe Hill (Norse ‘hof,’ holy and so possibly a sacred place for heathen worship; or, the Norse ‘haugr’ or ‘howe,’ a burial place, possibly the resting-place of some Viking chief, the names all round having Danish elements).  It has a Dyke, or scarpment, running round it, like a collar, and was probably a British or Danish encampment; geologically it consists of ironstone, quite distinct from the sandstone formation on the lower ground.  At Holbeck it is worth the while to turn in at the Lodge gate, and proceed some 250 yards along the drive, when we find ourselves among very pretty scenery; the modern Hall confronting us, built by the late J. Fardell, Esq., who was M.P. for Lincoln for about a week.  We pause in a woody dell with a picturesque lake and rocks on each side of us.  (N.B.—In these rocks the badger still survives).  Retracing our steps into the main road again, and some 200 yards back towards Horncastle, by a guide-post the road turns off southward, and, following this, we arrive at Ashby Puerorum, or Ashby “of the boys,” so called to distinguish it from the other two Ashbys, not far off, the name being derived from the fact that certain lands in the parish are appropriated to the maintenance of the choristers of Lincoln Cathedral, the Dean and Chapter being patrons of the benefice.  The road here is somewhat tortuous, but we find our way to the church, the chancel of which was restored by the patrons in 1869, and the rest of the building in 1877.  It is a small fabric, consisting of nave, north aisle, chancel, small porch, and western tower.  The main building is Early English.  A lancet window still remains in the south wall, and at the west end of the aisle.  The other windows of the nave are mostly Perpendicular.  On the south side of the chancel is a two-light, square-headed, decorated window.  The arcade has two chamfered arches, on low cylindrical piers.  The tower is a low, stunted example of Perpendicular, the green sandstone picturesquely patched with brick.  The west doorway is well proportioned, and the three-light Perpendicular window above, and the tower arch, are plain but good.  There is p. 254a plain octagonal font.  On the south wall is a brass to Richard Littlebury, of Stainsby, in the parish (obiit 1521); his wife Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Edmund Jenny, of Suffolk (died 1523); and their ten children.  The brass, according to Haines, was not cut till 1560, at the same time with another of a knight in armour, now without inscription, but probably one of the six sons of the above.  In the pavement is a the incised slab of blue marble, representing a priest in Eucharistic vestments, with chalice on the breast.  The head, hands, chalice, and other portions were of brass, but these have disappeared.  As has been elsewhere stated, in 1794, a Roman sepulchre was discovered three feet below the surface,—a stone chest, containing an urn of strong glass of greenish hue.  The urn held small pieces of calcined bone, and, among them, a small lacrimatory of very thin green glass.  Sir Joseph Banks thought it not improbable that, some day, the site of a Roman villa might be found near at hand. [254]

We again take to the main road, due eastward, and at the distance of another mile or so, we arrive at a steep descent, embowered in lofty trees; and, at the foot of this, “The Brook,” immortalized by the Laureate, winds its musical way beneath the road, under a bridge.  To the left we see its course (where the writer has ofttimes “tickled” his trout), through a green meadow, as it issues from the wood named “Holy Well.”  To the right it speeds onward through low-lying lands until it is lost in the distance.

Proceeding along the narrow lane,—so narrow, indeed, that only at certain points can two vehicles pass each other, and shut in by banks of sandstone,—we reach, on the right, a well in the rock, the latter green and grey with moss, lichen and fern, the water clear as crystal.  It is, indeed, a lonely, quiet spot, fit place for musing meditation, in a poet’s wanderings.  Just a cottage or two to remind one that there is a population, but not obtrusive.  The rectory is the second, and larger, of two houses on the right, though now occupied as a farmhouse.  It is a quaint, unpretending, old-time residence, uniting manor house and rectory in one.  At its eastern end is a semi-ecclesiastical addition, with pointed windows having coloured glass of no particular merit.  In the ground-floor apartment in this is a carved mantlepiece, the work of the Laureate’s father.  Just beyond is a brick castellated building, “The p. 255Grange,” said to have been designed by Vanbrugh.  Its construction is massive, and its curious cellars and other details make it something of a “Romance in brick.”  Certainly it is a fair example of that solid style of building which gave rise to his (suggested) epitaph,—

Lie heavy on him, Earth; for he
Laid many a heavy weight on thee.

One can hardly help feeling that it must have been a reduction from some original, more ambitious, design; and those gloomy cellars may well have harboured the smuggler, or his illicit hoards, in days when not only humbler boards, but the table of parson and squire, boasted unblushingly of the “Schiedam” which had not paid duty, and was thought the better of it.  This house is the reputed home of Tennyson’s “Northern Farmer,” whose dialect, however, as given by the poet, is generally considered by experts, however picturesque, to be considerably overdrawn. [255]  In Somersby itself, except for its secluded beauty, there would be little to interest the visitor were it not for its association with the early years of the Tennysons.  And one of the present writer’s earliest recollections is, as a small boy, driving his sisters, in a donkey cart through the village; when they were accosted by two strollers on the road, one of whom was Alfred Tennyson, then on a visit to the rectory, and not yet Laureate.

The Church of Somersby has little of interest, beyond a small brass with kneeling figure of George Littlebury, dated 1612; a stoup in the porch, and over the porch a sundial, with the legend “Time passeth,” dated 1751.  The tower, however, has two good mediæval bells.  In repairing the tower in 1883, a fine window in its western face was removed and replaced by an inferior one (Saunders “Hist.,” vol. ii., p. 173).  The modern restoration, with bright tiling of the floor, gives a brand-new appearance, rather out of keeping with the almost crumbling low tower, and rustic surroundings.  The one really interesting feature is the churchyard cross.  It is of Perpendicular date, tall, well designed, and with octagonal shaft gracefully tapering from the base to a corona, and having above that a cross, which, possibly owing to the very retired position of the village, has escaped the iconoclast.  It has, on one side, the Crucifixion, and on the other the Virgin and Infant Saviour.  It is almost unique in its very good p. 256state of preservation, the Puritans having generally ruthlessly mutilated such erections.  Several models of it, in bronze, were made some years ago to the order of the late Mr. C. J. Caswell, and were speedily sold off as memorials of Tennyson.  It has also recently been reproduced in the churchyard of Huttoft, in this county, where the church was restored, in 1895, by Mr. W. Scorer, architect, of Lincoln.

One of the places visited should be Holy Well wood.  It is a leafy dell, where tower up lofty trees still vigorous, while others are lying rotting on the ground.

Nature in her old wild way,
Life blending closely with decay.

The thin stream twines about their roots, or springs over sandstone bars, in sylvan, solitude.  The spot was described, years ago, by Howitt in his “Homes and Haunts of English Poets.”  A local authority says that, once upon a time, a series of steps led down to the well, where an upright post was fixed, and a cross-bar from it was secured to the rock.  On this cross-bar was an iron ring and a cable, by which a bather could let himself down for a dip in the well; and an old servant of the Tennyson family could remember when numbers of people came to take the water, which was considered to have health-giving properties. [256]

The manor of Somersby goes with that of Bag Enderby, and the benefices are held together, being barely a mile apart.  The church of the latter is rather more interesting than that of Somersby, and it would be a pity not to see it, while we are so far, or near.  It was built by Albin de Enderby, who died in 1407.  Some of the windows, as the three-light one at the east end of the chancel, and others are Perpendicular; while others are of the Decorated style, but probably of the same date.  There is some interesting old iron-work on the original oak door in the porch.  The font is octangular, Perpendicular; on the bowl is carved the figure of the Virgin, supporting on her knees the dead body of the Saviour; a shield, on which is cut the spear, and hyssop with sponge, crosswise; the cross and crown of thorns; a deer couchant with head turned back, and feeding on the leaves of a tree; and other more ordinary devices.  The chancel arch is fine, and there are some remains of a screen.  All the windows would p. 257seem to have been originally filled with delicately-painted 14th century glass, of which fragments retrain.  In the westernmost window of the south wall of the nave is a shield bearing the arms of Croyland Abbey.  In the central alley of the nave are two fine Purbeck marble slabs, bearing legends on brass plates. [257]  On the north wall of the chancel is a stone mural monument commemorating Andrew and Dorothy Gedney, with their two sons and two daughters, kneeling before two prayer-desks, in the costume of their period.  In the churchyard is the base of a cross, the upper part having been removed some years ago.  The font stands on a sepulchral slab, which has been ruthlessly cut into for the purpose.

As the name Enderby is sometimes, in old documents, written Hinterby, an idea has been broached that the prefix “Bag,” means “back,” or “hinder-by.”  But, as we are in the region of sand and sandstone, abounding in burrows, it would seem more likely that the Bag is the badger; after a similar form to Bagshot, in Surrey, i.e., Bag or Badger’s holt; Bagley, near Oxford; Badgeworth, near Cheltenham (from which last neighbourhood the writer has a badger-skin), &c.  An alternative derivation, of course, is the word Bag, or Bage, i.e., “turf,” for fuel, which might be not unlikely in Lincolnshire; but as “Bag” enters into place-names all over the kingdom, where the word “Bag,” for turf, is not used, this is hardly a likely explanation.

A short extension of our travels eastwards, through pretty scenery, with bold rising ground—Somersby Top, Warden Hill, &c.—capped by woods, brings us to Harrington, where we find an interesting old mansion belonging to Sir H. D. Ingilby, built in the reign of James II. with old-time garden, having parterres and terraces and extensive lawns, but, unfortunately, not at present occupied, and much decayed.  There is a very interesting church, almost entirely rebuilt by the late Rector, Rev. R. W. Cracroft, in 1855, but retaining a series of fine monuments of his own connections, the Knightly family of the Coppledykes; p. 258the earliest of these, Sir John de Harrington, temp. Edward I., was a Crusader.  His effigy lies on an altar tomb, beneath an arch in the south wall, at the east end of the nave.  He is in complete armour, cross-legged, his hands joined in prayer.  The next is a slab in the chancel floor, once having brass effigies, but which, with the inscription, have been removed.  It commemorated John Coppledyke and his wife Margaret Tilney, and bore date 1480.  Her effigy is now affixed to the wall of the chancel.  The third is that of John Coppledyke, who died in 1552.  Then there is the recessed altar-tomb of his son, also John, who died in 1585.  It is in the Tudor style, altar and canopy all of Purbeck marble.  Opposite is the monument of his brother Francis and his wife, the former dying in 1590.  Then come tombs of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period.  This typical series closes with the tomb of Thomas, the nephew of Francis, described in the epitaph as “the last and best of his race.”  The tower and font are the originals preserved; the latter bears on one of its faces the arms of Tilney impaling Coppledyke, shewing that it was the joint gift of John and Margaret, towards the end of the fifteenth century.

We have taken these latter two churches because they lie within easy reach from Somersby, the main object of our excursion, and they add to its interest.  We now turn homewards again, but by a different route.  We might, from Somersby, have visited Salmonby, barely a mile away, where there is a restored church with some interesting features; and we might also have included a visit to Tetford, a large village or small town, equi-distant from Somersby, with a fairly large church, but in a very bad condition and much needing careful restoration.  But these we are constrained to omit, as the day’s excursion is to be a short one.  From Harrington, we turn south-west, and climb a hill of some mile in extent, to the pleasant village of Hagworthingham, where we find a model church, beautifully situated.  It has been largely rebuilt, but retains some ancient features, which show that the structure was originally Early English.  This style has been retained.  The church has nave, chancel, south aisle, tower and south porch.  The arcade is of four bays, with arches rising from low cylindrical piers, with moulded capitals, earlier than the arches which they support.  These low arches give a kind of “dim religious light” to p. 259the fabric.  The antiquarian, Gervase Holles, says [259] of this church: “On a gravestone of blue marble, in ye body of ye Church is pourtrayed in brasse one in compleat armour, bearing upon ye manches of his coate of armes on either side 2 crescents.  Between his feet a right hand couped.  The rest is defaced.”  At the present time the whole of this is gone.  The font has a plain octagonal basin, supported by a group of Early English shafts.  The tower is low and square, its greenish sandstone being relieved by an intermixture of brick, and has a good peal of bells.  The church is well cared for in every way, and its position perfect.  Three-quarters of a mile south there is a very interesting church at Lusby, but, although some of its peculiar features would well repay a visit, it is slightly out of our beat, and we must draw the line somewhere.  We have between four and five miles of steep hills and valleys between us and Horncastle, a route which cannot be hurried over, and we must push on.  From Greetham Hill, on a clear day, we command a view across the Wash, into Norfolk, to our left, while to our right we again see towering up, 25 miles away, the mass of Lincoln Minster.

The peculiar feature of this supplementary excursion is that it affords a revelation to those strangers to Lincolnshire who imagine the county to be flat as a billiard table.  We have been truly travelling, as was said by a Dutch sportsman, 300 years ago (whom I have quoted in a previous chapter), in “Lincolniensi montium tractu” (“Fuller’s Worthies,” p. 150), “among the mountains of Lincolnshire.”

Here we bring our Records and excursions to a close.  Like Vikings of old (under a figure) we have harried the country round, and (in a sense) ravished its many charms.  We have explored shrines consecrated by olden memories, enriched by the associations of centuries; but (unlike the Vikings), we have done this in no irreverent spirit, and with no predatory purpose.  We have carried off our hoards of treasure, but we have left no ill traces behind us of our raid.  No burning monasteries or homesteads have marked our track; no orphaned children or widowed wives follow us with their execrations.  Enriching ourselves, we have not impoverished others, and the country is still open for further investigation, with, doubtless, many a nook yet unexplored, and many a mushy folio unopened, whence others may extract materials of p. 260further interest.  On the whole we trust that our readers will endorse the words of a Lincolnshire man whom we have already quoted more than once, [260] that, although ours may be “a county which few have defended, still fewer have praised, and too many have depreciated”; yet that it does possess many objects and associations of no small interest, and that not the least of these are to be found in the Records of Woodhall Spa, and its neighbourhood.

This is hardly the place to moralise, nor have we space to do so to more than a very limited extent; yet two reflections seem to force themselves upon us as the result of the archæological enquiries which have produced the last three chapters of this work.  One of these is the evil consequences of a barren formalism in religion.  The monkish perfunctory services, with their “vain repetitions” and “long players,” reduced the individual well-nigh to the level of a praying machine, which could run off, as it were, from the reel, so many litanies in a given time, with little effort of intellect, and only a blind exercise of faith; both fatal to religious vitality.  The dissolution of the monasteries, which were, perhaps, more abundant in our own neighbourhood than in any other similarly limited area in the kingdom, is not only a fact in history, but also may be an object-lesson in a different age.  At the close of the enlightened 19th century we witnessed a church—may I not almost say, a nation?—convulsed over questions of religious ceremonial, which, to minds endeavouring to take a sober and unbiassed view, seem bordering on the puerile, compared with the weightier matter of the religion of heart and life.  We can hardly help exclaiming, “Oh, that practical Englishmen would spend their energies on larger issues rather than thus give a handle to their enemies!”  There is such a thing as “having the form of godliness without the indwelling power thereof.”  From such let us turn away, or history may, even yet, repeat itself.

There can be no doubt that the plunder of the monasteries was primarily, though not avowedly, caused by the greed of a master mind, in Wolsey—whose extravagance needed “the sinews of war,” acting upon a desire for revenge, deeply seated in the heart of a Sovereign, self-convicted we may well believe, but stubbornly clinging to p. 261his sin; whose unjustifiable act, in the divorce of Catherine of Aragon, outraged the national sense of right, but especially was condemned by the religious orders.  Yet, none the less, though brought about by unworthy motives, and the result, as it were, of side issues, the destruction of those institutions, with all their virtues and their manifold usefulness, coincided with a condition of things, widely prevalent, which rendered them only “fit for the burning.”  They had, indeed, served their generation, and more than one, but they had become “carrion” in the nostrils, and, “where the carcase” was, “the vultures” of retribution, almost in the natural order of events, were “gathered together.”

A second reflection tends in an opposite direction.

A reactionary sentiment of our day is to make an idol of the great figure-head of Puritanism.  We had lately (April 25, 1899) a celebration of the Tercentenary of Cromwell; in the place of his birth he has been made use of (by a strange stroke of irony) as an apostle of education.  Projects are on foot for erecting his statue in positions of honour.  Yet we see still in our own neighbourhood, as well as elsewhere, traces of the almost universal desecration of our holy places perpetrated by the fanaticism which he fostered and guided.  Was Henry VIII. an Iconoclast, in shattering the monasteries?  No less was the crime of Puritanism in dismantling our churches and stripping them of treasures which were beyond price.  The antiquarian Carter says, “Before the hand of destruction wrought such fatal devastation, every sacred edifice throughout England, whether of confined or extended dimensions, teemed with a full and resplendent show of painted glass, all equally excellent, all equally meritorious” (Remarks on York Minster, Winkle’s “Cathedrals,” vol. i., p. 54, n. 30).  In confirmation of this I take two instances: Four miles away we have the fine Church of Coningsby, and we have in these pages (pp. 222–226) a detailed description of the splendid series of coloured windows which formerly adorned that church.  We ask, “Where are they now?” and echo can only reiterate “Where?”  But for Gervase Holles, a Lincolnshire man and formerly M.P. for Grimsby, we should not now know that they ever existed.  We take another case, one of the humblest structures in our neighbourhood, the church of Langton, and we have records given by p. 262the same authority of windows once existing here whose blazonry connected it with the ancient families of Everingham, de Seyrt, Skipwith, Bec, Ufford, and Willoughby.  Where are they now?  The wave of Puritanism has swept away every trace of them.  Somersby indeed retains its churchyard cross, almost an isolated instance.  The Puritan axe and hammer missed it, no thanks to them.  The beautifully-carved fragments of destroyed monasteries, preserved perhaps as relics on our garden rockeries warn us of the dangers of mere formalism in religion.  The Puritan spoliation of our holy places warns us against fanaticism and irreverence.  Turn neither to the right hand nor to the left.  In medio tutissimus ibis.  We may well “hark back” to the devotion of our forefathers, but from either extreme, Domine, dirige nos.

And now there only remains the duty, or, rather, the privilege, of saying one parting word more.  A Preface may be called a pre-post-erous production, because, though standing at the head of a book, it is almost invariably written after the book is finished, and when the author can take a general review of his work.  In the present instance this was impossible.  The exigencies of the situation—these Records first appearing as a weekly series in “The Horncastle News”—required that the Introduction, to stand at their head, should be written when the work itself was yet only an embryo conceived in the writer’s brain.  He may truly be said to have begun ab ovo.  He knew, indeed, generally, his own intentions, but he could not possibly, as yet, tell the exact form in which they would be embodied, and, as an unavoidable consequence, in the present case, as in not a few others, what should naturally be the head is here found where the tail should be.  The real Preface closes, instead of introducing, the writer’s work to his readers.

A general outline, indeed, of the work had been laid down on paper more than a dozen years ago.  During that interval (as also for several years before it) the materials had been accumulating; but still, when the work actually began to take shape, the writer was standing, as it were, at one end of a coil, of which he could not see the other; the windlass was letting down a chain into depths which his eye could not penetrate, nor his knowledge yet reach.

The outline originally sketched out has really in one only particular been departed from, but, in the process of its evolution, the thread has p. 263considerably stretched.  The Clotho of its destiny has spun a longer web than had been foreseen by the writer.  On coming to closer quarters with his subject, materials multiplied beyond his expectations, and but for the pruning knife, the result would have been still larger than it is.

How much the author is indebted to the previous industry of others is shewn by the number of the footnotes, and other references in the text, which together amount to close upon five hundred.  Others have laboured and he has entered into their labours, and his object, in this, as it were, post-prandial utterance, is to own, with gratitude, the varied viands—epulæ lautissimæ—which he has found spread before him.  He would say, with Cicero, opipare epulati sumus; and yet there are many baskets of fragments left.

He would also here express his thanks for the unvaried kindness with which his personal visits, in search of local information, have been welcomed; for the helpful response always made to his enquiries; as well as for the sympathy shewn towards his undertaking.  But for these the work could not have attained its present dimensions, nor could much of its most interesting matter have been obtained; while, further they have made the work a task of real pleasure to himself.  He can only say, in conclusion that if others should find, in the perusal of these pages, even a tithe of the entertainment which he has himself found in the compilation of them, he will be more than satisfied—gratified—by the result.


Argufy.  To matter, be of importance.  “It does not argufy at all,” i.e. “It does not signify,” or “It makes no difference.”

Bab.  A sort of dredge, with hooks below it, to clear out fen drains of the weeds.

Bage.  A paring of turf formerly used for fuel.

Bandy-ball.  The game of hockey, also called shinty or shindy.

Banker.  A navvy employed in digging or repairing fen drains.

Bat.  A small bundle of straw or grass.

Battle-twig.  An earwig.

Baulk.  Hiccough.

Bealto.  To squeal, or bawl, used of a child screaming.

Beastlings.  The first milk drawn from a cow after calving, which is specially rich.

Beck.  A brook.  Reed’s beck, Odd’s beck.

Bested.  Beaten.  “He will best you,” i.e. get the better of you.

Bevering-time.  Luncheon time.  Compare “Beverage.”

Blowns.  Exclamation of surprise.  Compare “Zounds,” (supposed to be a contraction of “God’s wounds.”)  Blowns probably a contraction of “blood and wounds,” i.e. of Christ.

Boon, to.  To repair the roads.  The road surveyor was called the boon master.

Bran in the face.  Freckles.

Brat.  A child.  Term of contempt, “Take that tiresome brat away.”

Breed.  Each separate line of walk when a party is shooting through a wood.

Breer.  The strip of grass between a ditch, and the ploughed land of a field.  3d. per chain was paid for cleaning out a ditch and mowing the breer.

Brock.  Sheep dung dried to be used as fuel.

Brog.  To pierce holes with a stick, &c.  “Brog him in the ribs,” i.e. poke him.

p. 265Bub or bubbling.  A young bird, a fledgling.

Bule-ding.  The common pronunciation of “building.”

Bully.  The sloe, wild fruit of the black thorn.  Bullace cheese is made from it.

By-name.  A nick-name.  Compare by-word i.e. ill-repute.

Causey.  Causeway.  Commonly used of the brick paved yard of a cottage.

Cazzlety.  Fickle and uncertain in temper.

Chickering.  Chirping of the cricket on the hearth, or of a chicken.

Chittapag.  A woman fond of using fine words.

Chuck, to.  To throw.  Chuck-penny, to play at pitch and toss.

Clagged.  Draggle-tailed with mud and dirt.  Of an untidy woman.

Clatty.  Dirty.  Of roads after rain.

Clegg.  Matted wool on hedges, &c.

Clout.  A cloth, dish-cloth, &c.

Clout.  A knock or blow, as “Fetch him a clout on the head.”

Connyfogled.  Cheated, outwitted.

Crizzle, to.  To crystalize or freeze.  “The window is crizzled.”

Daking.  A dyke or ditch.

Dither.  To shudder with alarm or dislike.  To shiver with cold.

Dythe.  Cow dung dried for fuel.

Fell.  Hurtful or fierce.  “The flies are very fell this close weather.”

Frit.  Frightened, affrighted.

Gabblick.  A crowbar.

Gallous.  Frisky or lively (of youth).

Glegging.  Glancing slily.  “That sly girl’s glegging eye.”

Glib.  Smooth (of ice).  Smooth and ready of tongue.

Gout.  A sluice by which water passes from one drain to another.

Gozny.  To look.  To look stupid.

Grizzley.  To shade with grey.  “The evening is grizzling.”

p. 266Hag’s place.  A situation of hard work and drudgery.  Fit only for a poor hag.

Hap up, to.  To wrap up, in shawl, paper, &c.

Harr.  A fog.  An old writer says “The air of the fens was crass, and full of rotten harrs.”  A “sea-harr” is a fog coining inland from the sea.

Heppen.  Handy at work.  Helpful.

Hing, to.  To hang.  This gate hings well.

Hirpling.  Limping in gait.

How.  Way or mode of acting.  “Do it i’ that how, and you’ll be right.”

Hug, to.  To carry.  “Hugging about a big load.”

Ill-convenient.  Inconvenient.

Keck.  A large plant of the Hemlock species.

Kid.  A faggot.

Lamb-toe.  The plant “Lady’s fingers,” Lotus corniculatus.

Lap up, to.  To wrap up.

Leather.  A ladder.

Leathering.  A beating.  “If you don’t keep quiet I’ll give you a good leathering.”

Letten.  Perf. of to let.  “He has letten ’em go,” i.e. allowed them to go.

Lig, to.  To lie, down, &c.

Lug, the ear.  The plant Mouse-ear (Myosotis Arvensis) is called mouse-lug.

Lick, to.  To beat, “Give him a licking.”  To be beyond anyone’s power.  “It licks me how they can do it,” i.e. I cannot understand.

Lug, to.  To drag.  “Why are you lugging (i.e. dragging) that bairn about?”

Marguery.  The herb Mercury, also called “Good King Henry.”

Mithered.  Muddled, dazed, stupid.

Mizzlings.  The measles.

Moiling.  Working hard, toiling.

Mort.  A large quantity.  “Working a mort of hours,” i.e. many hours.  “That tree has a mort of blossoms.”

Mud or mun.  Must.  “I mun (or mud) do it or I shall be wrong.”

Nag-nail.  A corn on the foot.

p. 267Nautling.  Towering up, a steeple or tall tree.

Neb.  A bird’s beak.

Nobby.  Handy, clever, ready of resource.

Nowt.  Nothing.  Worth nowt means worthless, good-for-nothing.

Overset, to.  To overcome or surmount trial.  “He’s been very badly (i.e. ill) and cannot overset it,” i.e. get over it.

Owry.  Dirty, of roads after rain.

Pad.  Path.  A footpad is a footpath.

Pedigree.  A long story, as of some grievance.

Petty.  An outside W.C.

Pig’s-paut.  Pig’s foot, a trotter.

Pismire.  An ant.

Plasens.  Places.  “I’ve seen many plasens but this licks ’em all.”  (See lick.)

Posy.  A bunch of flowers, bouquet.

Pry.  Name of a field.  Pry-close (from praie, coarse grass.)

Puddock.  A kite or buzzard.

Purr.  A poker.  “Purr the fire,” i.e. poke it.

Quirking.  Nimble, active, as a monkey.

Ramper.  The highway (probably rampart).

Remble, to.  To move a thing out of the way.  “Remble that chair,” &c.

Ratle or Reightle.  To set to rights, arrange in order.  “Lassy, ratle them things.”

Screeved.  Split up on the ice.  Cattle in former frozen fen floods were thus ruptured and killed.

Shale, to.  To walk awkwardly, shuffle along.

Shan.  Shy.  Of horses or cattle frightened at an object.

Shift, to.  To move anything to another place.

Shiv or Shiver.  A splinter of wood.  “I’ve got a shiv in my finger.”

Shout!  A flat-bottomed fen boat.

Shove, to.  To push anything along, or out of the way.

Shugh!  An expression of disbelief.  Shugh!  Nonsense!  I don’t believe it.

Shut.  Rid.  To get shut (i.e. rid) of anything not needed, or a nuisance.

p. 268Sicker, to.  To soak, as water oozing through a rotten bank.

Sidle.  To walk aside, or indirectly, towards anyone.  “Sidle up to her quietly.”

Sile, to.  To pour.  “It siles wi’ rain.”

Skelp, to.  To empty a cart by tilting it.

Skirth.  A fen drain.

Slape.  Slippery, as roads after frost.

Slappy or sloppy.  Muddy and moist.

Slither, to.  To slide on ice.

Slive, to.  To slip or creep slowly on.  “The night slives on.”

Slosh.  Aslant, as a path running slosh across a field.

Sloven.  The stump of a tree.

Smock-raffled.  Taken aback, puzzled.

Smower, to.  To pour over.  “Yon tree smowers over wi’ fruit.”

Snitchy.  Bad tempered, irritable.

Soodle, to.  To daudle.

Soodly.  Idle.

Sooth.  Soft, gentle, of whispers, winds, &c.

Souse, to.  To soak in water, &c.

Spank.  To strike with flat hand.  “Spank the tiresome bairn.”

Splats.  Leggings or gaiters.

Spry.  Lively, full of spirit.

Squarls.  Quarrels.

Stang.  A pole.  Only used in eel-stang, a long pole with iron prongs at the end, thrust into the mud to catch eels; and in “riding the stang,” in the old custom of “rantanning,” to serenade with beaten tins and kettles the wife-beater, when a figure was carried disguised as the offender, sitting astride of a long pole.

Stilted.  Daubed with dirt (stockings, &c.)

Struttle.  A runnel, small stream between stepping stones.

Suthering.  Sighing, as the wind in the trees.

Swads.  Bean pods.

Swail.  Shade.  “Left in the swail,” away from the sun.

p. 269Swingle.  A flail.

Teem, to.  To overflow or be full.  “He teems wi’ jokes.”  “It teems wi’ rain.”

Thruff.  Pronunciation of “through,” compare “enough,” Linc. enew.

Tidy.  A pinafore.  “Put on your tidy, my bairn.”

Tray.  A hurdle.

Trig.  Trim, neat, as trim as a pin.

Tue or tew.  To fret, chafe impatiently, tire oneself out.

Undernean.  Underneath.

Wakken.  Wide-awake, sharp, noticing everything.

Wankling.  A weak child, also wreckling.

Ware, to.  To spend.  “Are you going to ware anything on me at the fair?”

Wath.  A ford.  “Kirkstead Wath,” “Shearman’s Wath.”

Werrit, to.  To worry or fidget, in needless anxiety.

Wopper.  Anything unusually large.  “That bairn of yourn is a wopper.”

Yocks.  The two chains on which buckets are hung from the shoulder board, when carrying water from the well.

Yon.  Yonder.  “Look at yon boy, what is he up to?”

Yow.  Ewe, a female sheep.

Yow-necked.  Of a horse with neck too thin.

Yuck, to.  To jirk.  “Yuck the reins to check the horse.”


Adam’s Flannel



Ground Ivy

Alexander’s foot



“Very precious”—Spikenard.  “The Box of Ointment,” Mark xiv., 3–5, worth “300 pence.”

Valeriana officinalis


Wild sage


Water pepper



Ass’s foot


Aaron’s board












Bedlam Cowslip


Beggar’s buttons


Beggar’s needle

Shepherd’s needle





Biddy’s eyes


Bird’s eye

Germander Speedwell


Corn blue-bottle

Bleed wort

Wild red poppy

Bleeding heart


Blood wort

Blood-veined dock



Bobbin and Joan


Bog violet

Butter wort

Brain berry


Bride wort

Meadow sweet

Bulls and Cows


Bunny mouth


Butter and eggs


p. 271Calf’s snout

Scarlet Pimpernel


Goose grass, cleavers





Catch weed


Cheese rennet

Yellow bedstraw

Choke weed

Corn convolvulus



Christmas rose


Call me near

Sweet William

Corn bind

Corn convolvulus

Cow’s Langwort


Crow flower

Crow’s foot / Wild Ranunculus

Crow’s toe

Crow’s foot / Wild Ranunculus

Cuckoo’s meat

Wood sorrel

Cuckoo spice

Wood sorrel

Culver wort


Death’s herb

Deadly nightshade




Corn chamomile

Dead men’s fingers

Early purple orchis

Eggs and bacon

Bird’s foot trefoil

Ears wort

Mouse ear

Lug wort

Mouse ear

Five fingers


Flea dock

Butter bur


Catch fly

Fuller’s thistle


Gander gorse

Rag wort

Gnat flower

Fly orchis

Goose tongue

Sneeze wort





Hare’s eye

Wild Campion


Corn poppy

Hell weed

Corn convolvulus

Hen gorse

Rest harrow

Holy Ghost’s root


Horse daisy


Horse thyme

Wild thyme



(Humelock, 13th Century)

John that goes to bed at noon


p. 272Kettle case

Purple orchis



King’s finger

Smaller purple orchis


Southern wood

Lady’s cushion


Lily royal

Penny royal

Love in idleness


Louse wort

Marsh red rattle

Lad’s love

Southern wood

Maiden’s love

Southern wood


Meadow sweet


Goose foot

Maiden hair

Quake grass

Nap at noon

Purple goat’s beard

Navel wort

Cotyledon umbelicus

Neck weed


Ox tongue

Bug loss

Penny weed

Yellow rattle


Shepherd’s purse


Sweet Scabious

Pixy stool

Toad stool

Poor man’s pepper

Stone crop

Poverty weed

Purple cow-wheat

Pudding grass

Penny royal

Red shanks

Water pepper

Rattle penny

Yellow rattle

Rust burn

Rest harrow



Shepherd’s rod


Shoes and Stockings

Lady’s slipper


Stork’s bill

Toad pipes


Turk’s cap

Monk’s hood

Wall pepper

Sedum acre

Water grass

Water cress



Wood sour

Wood sorrel

Yellow bottle

Corn marygold



found at Woodhall Spa, or in the neighbourhood, compiled by Professor J. F. Blake, given in the Government “Geological Survey Memoirs,” pp. 191, 192.

Ammonites Berryeri.  Langton and Baumber.

Ammonites decipiens.  Baumber.

Ammonites serratus.  Woodhall, Langton, and Baumber.

Ammonites mutabilis.  Horncastle.

Ammonites hector.  Baumber.

Belemnites nitidus.  Woodhall.

Cerithium crebrum.  Horncastle.

Rostellaria mosensis.  Langton and Horncastle.

Rissoa mosensis.  Woodhall.

Dentalium Quenstedti.  Horncastle.

Arca reticulata.  Horncastle.

Arca rhomboidalis.  Langton and Baumber.

Astarte Michaudiana.  Baumber.

Astarte supracorallina.  Horncastle.

Anatina minuta.  Horncastle.

Anomia Dollfusii.  Baumber.

Avicula ædilignensis.  Woodhall and Langton.

Avicula Dorsetensis.  Langton.

Cardium striatulum.  Horncastle.

Corbula Deshayesia.  Baumber and Horncastle.

Corbula fallax.  Baumber.

Ceromya orbicularis.  Baumber.

Cyprina cyrene-formis.  Woodhall and Langton.

Homomya compressa.  Baumber and Horncastle.

Lima ædilignensis.  Woodhall and Baumber.

Nucula menkii.  Langton, Baumber, and Horncastle.

Nucula obliquata.  Langton.

Ostrœa deltoidea.  Woodhall.

Pecten demissus.  Langton.

p. 274Pecten Grenieri.  Baumber and Horncastle.

Pecten arcuatus.  Baumber.

Thracia depressa.  Woodhall and Horncastle.

Lingula ovalis.  Baumber.

Serpula tetragona.  Langton.

Serpula intestinalis.  Horncastle.

N.B.—The Langton here named is Langton St. Andrew, now synonymous with Woodhall Spa, but referring specially to the ground west of the Stixwould Road, though including Jordan’s Pond.  All these fossils may be expected throughout the immediate neighbourhood, in Kirkstead, &c., &c., as they are all from the Kimeridge formation.

We have no list of fossils from the lower geological formations, which are out of ordinary reach.  Those here given are near the surface, or exposed in ditches or pits, and may be found by anyone who has the eye to discern them.

p. 275INDEX.


Abbey, Bardney 167–170
„ Kirkstead 239–248
„ Stixwould 150–156
„ Tupholme 165–167

Abbot, of Bardney, “Mitred” 169

Accident at Woodhall Well 7, 8
„ Poem on, by J. Sharpe 8

Adelaide, Queen 14

Adelias de Cundi 189

Albini, Hugh de 229 and note

Albino Hares 65

All-Hallows’ Church, Ancient 156, 157

Ancient pistol 129

Andrew’s St., Church 14

Anelace, found in Kirkstead 107 and note

Angevine, Robert, of Langton 197

Antiquities of Lincoln 117–125
,, found in Witham 107–110

Architect, Stephen Lewin 14 and note

Ashby Puerorum 253, 254
,, ,, Roman tomb at 254

Ayscough, H., married E. Dymoke 214


Bab, i.e., dredge 100

Badger, beneficial to fox 53

Bad roads to Woodhall 11

Bag Enderby 256, 257

Bage, or sod, old word 23 and note

Bain, Celtic river name 228 and note

Banks, Sir Joseph 189

Bardney 167–171
„ Visited by Henry IV. 194

Barkworth family 139, 140

Bath, discovery of water 5
,, House, the first, 1834 9

Bede-houses at Langton 200

Bell, “Pan-cake” 192

Beriwick, of Langton 197

Bernack, Sir William 230, 234

Birch, clogs 34 and note

Bird-Hag Wood 36, 37

Birds of Fenland, former 48, 49
,, of neighbourhood 34, 47, 51

Bittern 34

Black death 193, 206

Black game 34, 35

Bog’s nook 34

Bolingbroke, New, “city” 6
,, Old 5 and note

Bolles family 145

Bolsover, water discovered 5

p. 276Botany of neighbourhood 28–33

Bough-houses 180 and note

Boulders, glacier-borne 88, 91, 201

Brandon, Charles, Duke of Suffolk 234, 250

Brass of Cromwell, Lord 237, 238
,, of Dymoke 190

Brick-work, beautiful 230, 231

Brick tank at Woodhall Spa 9

Buckland, in Woodhall 127

Bucknall 161–165
,, List of Rectors 164, 165

Bull baiting 178 and note

Bull Ring, Horncastle 178

Buzzard 43


Callis, merchant of staple of 225

Canoes, ancient 114–116

Carlisle, Bishop of 189

Carlsbad, water discovered 5

Caroline, Queen’s trial, anecdote 185

Cart, dragged by man 21 miles 185

Carving, S. Andrew’s Church 14 and note

Castle walls, Horncastle 187, 188

Caswell, Mr. Clement J. 185–187, 256

Cathedral, Lincoln 27

Cato-street Conspiracy 159–161

Celts, found 105 and note, 106

Champion Cups 209

Champion, Dymoke 14 and note

Charles I., Dymoke bequest to 214

Charles II., anecdote of 172, 173

Chesney, William, de 185

Chrismatory, mediæval 199

   Andrew’s, St., Woodhall Spa 14
   St. Peter’s ,, 16
   Ashby Puerorum 253, 254
   Bucknall 162–164
   Coningsby 222–226
   Edlington 176
   Enderby, Bag 256, 257
   Gautby 172
   Haltham 215–217
   Horncastle 189, 190
   Kirkstead 244–249
   Langton 198–200
   Martin 203, 204
   Minting 174, 175
   Roughton 205, 206
   Scrivelsby 213, 214
   Somersby 255
   Tattershall 234–238
   Thimbleby 177
   Thornton 201, 202
   Wispington 175, 176
   Woodhall, Old 200, 201

p. 277Church, robber’s sanctuary 193

Clarkson, boring for coal 6

Clinton, Sir H. 189
,, Lord 132, 136, 143, 144, 189, 234, 250

Coal-pit Wood 8

“Cobbler, Captain” 170

Coffins, leaden 110

Coins, Roman 112

Collar, brazen, for maniac 159

Coney-garth 169, 170

Conging-street, Horncastle 179

Coningsby 218–227

Coningsby family 219

Coppledyke, knightly family of 257, 258

Corner, Hangman’s, Horncastle 189

Cottage Hospital, Woodhall 17

Creviquer, Alexander 153

Cromwell, Lord Treasurer 136, 137
,, Oliver, in Horncastle 194 and note
,, Ralph de 208, 230, 234

Cundi, Adelias de 189

Cures at Woodhall, early 9

Curfew 226


Daubeney, Sir Giles 221

Dar-wood 127

Deane, tablet of, at Horsington 158

D’Eyncourt, Baron 230, 234

Diocese, Lincoln, Humber to Thames 125

Dispenser, Robert de 202, 208

Doctors, first resident at Woodhall 9

Dog-kennel yard, Horncastle 187

Donatives, abolished 13 and note

Drainage of Fens 101

Drayton’s “Polyolbion” 28, 48

Driby, Robert de 230, 234

Drogo de Bruere 220

Dyer, John, Poet 226

Dymoke, Champion, at Coronation 210–213

Dymoke, bequest to Charles I. 214
,, Edward, of Thornton 203
,, Sir Robert, good marriage 214


Eagle, seen at Woodhall 42

Eagle Hotel, built 15

Editha, Queen 189

Edlington 176

Elizabeth, Queen, held Horncastle Manor 189

Ellison, R., Poem “Kirkstead” 36 and note, 250 and note

Elmhirst, Col. Richard 150

Enderby, Bag 256, 257

p. 278Escald, Gerbald de 189

Ethelred, King’s burial-place 169

Eudo, Norman Knight 229

Eusden, Laurence, Poet Laureate 226

Ezmondeys, Galfred de 153

Enderby, Albin de 256


Fairs at Horncastle 179 and note
,, tricks at 181–183

Ferruginous water at Woodhall 10

Fight at Winceby 190

Fishes, list of local 72

Fish, Recipe for Cooking, by Francatelli 74 and note

Fitzendo, Hugh 229, 239

Flintgan 35 and note

Floralia, Festival of 188

Flower as bait for fish 74

“Forest” of Woodhall, Pakinson’s 6, 7

Fortescue, Hugh, Baron 234

Fox, cunning of 58, 59

Franklin, Sir John, at Horncastle 194

Fynes family 136
„ Henry, of Christed 250, 251, 70
,, Henry, of Christed 250, 251


Gallows at Thimbleby 134, 240

“Gap,” the Lincoln 101, 102

Gaunt, Gilbert de 169, 170
,, John of 120
,, John, at Roughton 207
„ Walter de 169

Gautby 172–174

Geological Notes 84–104

Geology of South Scarle boring 84 and note
,, of Woodhall boring 10, 85, and note

Gerard de Rhodes 189

Gerbald de Escald 189

Gibson, Rev. Thomas 191, 192

Glacier-borne boulders 87–91

Godiva, Lady 162

Granges, Moated 127, 129, 134, 135

Green Lady, legend of 145, 146

Gregory, Pope, curse of 196

Grey, John de 229

Gridiron, Horncastle Arms 192

Grosstête, Bishop, Epigram on 171 and note


Hagworthingham Church 258, 259

Hall-garth, Thimbleby 177

Hall, Halstead 146–148

Hall, High 128, 129

p. 279Hall, Poolham 138, 146

Hall, Roughton 207

Hall, White 135–138, 205

Hall, Wood 126, 127

Haltham 215–217

Hangman’s Corner 189

Hardy-gang Wood 171

Hare, cunning of 66, 88

“Harr” 27 and note

Harrier, Hen 43

Harrington Church 257, 258

Hawks, farmer’s and sportsman’s friends 41, 42

Henry IV., birthplace of 194
,, visits Bardney 194
,, ,, Horncastle 194

Heron and Kite, fight between 42 and note

High-Hall 128, 129

Hoe Hill 253

Holbeck 253

Holy Thistle 128, 161

Holy Well 254, 256

Home for Gentlewomen 18

Hopton, Sir Ingram 190, 194

Horncastle 177, 195
,, Fairs 179 and note
,, Cheating at 181, 183
,, Murder at 181
,, Plague in 193
,, Poet “Laureate” 184 and note
,, Railway opened 12

Horse-taker Wood 171

Horsington 156–161

Hotchkin, Mr. Thomas 9
,, T. J. Stafford, Esq. 15, 16

Hotel, Royal 15
,, Victoria, built 9
,, ,, enlarged 15

Hussey family 142 and note

Hybrid, hare and rabbit 63, 64


Incident at Kirkstead Hall 21, 22

Indulgence, Letters of 149 and note

Ings, field-name 156, 226

Insect life 33, 82, 83


Jack Musters 57

Jenny, Sir Edmund 254

Jews at Lincoln 122–124

Julian’s Bower 188

Jurors, Non 137 and note, 164

p. 280K.

Karilepho, Willm. de 196

Kestrel, useful to man 44

“Kid,” i.e., faggot 133

Kimeridge Clay 92, 93

Kingfisher 46, 47

Kirkstead Abbey 239, 240
,, Abbot 241, 243
,, Church 244–249
,, Poem by R. Ellison, Esq. 36 and note


Langton Church 198–200
,, Hill, extensive view 195
,, Moated House 196
,, Owners of land 196, 197

Langworth 227

Lawrence, St., Chapel, Horncastle 192

Lincoln, Antiquities 117–125
,, Diocese, from Humber to Thames 125
„ Minster 121, 122
,, Spires demolished 122
,, Railway opened 12

Lindsey, Lord of 169

“Literæ Laureatæ” 184 and note

Lizard, shedding tail 72


Marmyon, Baron 230, 234, 240
,, Roger de 170

Martin Church 203, 204

Mastiffs of Kirkstead Abbot 240

Maypole Hill 188

Maze 188

Meeres family 132, 134

Merlin hawk 43

Meschines, Ranulph de 174

Mill, valuable possession 140

Minting Church 174, 175
,, Weavers 175

Moat, valuable possession 136

Moon, race against the 185

Murder at Well-syke Wood 20
,, White Hall Wood 18
,, ,, Queen’s Head, Horncastle 181


Names, old 26

Nevill family 165

Nightingale 49–51

Nightjar 45, 46

Non-jurors 137 and note, 164

Norreys Fynes, monument 137

p. 281O.

Osmunda regalis 30

Ostler, Mr. W., at Woodhall 6
,, Plantations, bird resort 35
,, ,, varied sport in 62 and note

Oswald, King’s miraculous hand 169
„ ,, tombstone 167

Osyth, St 236 and note

Otter 54, 55

Overseer, female 207

Owls, anecdote of 45 and note
,, three kinds 44
„ very useful 44 and note


Parishes in Woodhall district 13

Parkinson, John, and Spa Well 5
,, three projects of 5

Partridge, brown and red-leg mixing eggs 39
,, red-leg and keeper, anecdote 38
,, sitting close, anecdote 40
,, when sitting, has no scent 39, 40, and note

Pheasant, cream-coloured 37
„ Kalege 37
,, White 37

Pigeons, wild, three kinds 41

Pike, large 75, 78

Pinso, Norman Knight 229

Pistol, history of 129 and note

Plague 193, 206

Plantation, Ostler’s 6, 35, 62 and note

Plants, lists of 30–32

Poachers 19

Poem, “Kirkstead,” by R. Ellison, Esq. 36 and note

Pry-close, origin of name 200


Quadrupeds of the district 52–69

Queen Adelaide 14
,, Caroline’s trial 185
„ Editha 189
,, Victoria 14

Queen’s Head, Horncastle, murder at 181


Ramper 11

Rebus at Scrivelsby 209

Reptiles, fishes, etc., of district 70–81

Rhodes, Gerard de 189
,, Ralph de 189, 221, 240

Richmond, Duke of 214

Robber, sheltered in church 193 and note

Robbers hanged, last time 24

p. 282Robbery frustrated 25, 26
,, at Halstead Hall 23, 24

Roman brickyard 11 and note
,, road, reputed 11 and note
,, sepulchre 254
,, well 177

Romara, William de 152, 240

Rook, the, a marauder 45

Roughton Church 205, 206
,, Plague at 206
,, Registers, peculiar entries in 206

“Royal Oak,” Knight of the 215


Saddler’s shop, famous at Horncastle 179

Savile family 141, 144

Scenery at Woodhall 27, 28

Scrivelsby 208
,, Champion Cups 209
,, Church 213, 214
,, Court 209
,, Lion Gateway 209
,, Parish Stocks 209

“Scrubs,” i.e., woodland 227

Scytha, St. 236 and note

Scythes in Horncastle Church 190 and note

Selling a wife 181 and note

Sewer, a stream 46 and note

Sharpe, John, lines by, on Well 8 and notes

Sherard family 131–134

Shooting, sport at Woodhall 63 and note

Silene quinque vulneralis, rare 29

Skipworth, old county family 133, 134

Snake’s only defence 71 and note

Snowden family, of Halstead, etc. 147, 148

Somersby Church 255
,, Lines on 186

Sparrow hawk, an enemy 43, 44

Spa, syndicate of 15 and note
,, water, analysis 98, 99 and note
,, ,, discovered 5–9

Spurs, tenure by 217 and note, 221

Statue, Equestrian, at Gautby 173, 174

“Statutes,” servant hiring 184

Steep hills 27, 258, 259 and note

Stixwold Abbey 152–155
,, Church 151, 152
,, Meaning of name 150

Stocks, parish 156, 181, 209

Stone coffins 155

Sunsets, fine 28

Swans on Witham 48

p. 283T.

“Tab shag,” old man 33, 112, 113

Taillebois, Ivo 152
,, Lord 214
,, Robert, Knight 220

Tattershall, Baron de 230
,, Castle 231, 232
,, „ accidents in 233
,, Church 234–238
,, Market Cross 228

Tench, flower bait for 74

Terrot, Rev. C. P. 175, 176, 189 and note

Thief at Red Cap Farm 24, 25

Thimbleby 176, 177
,, Church 177
„ Family 139, 140, 141

Thistle, “the Holy” 32, 128, 161

Thornton Church 201, 202
,, „ sacrilege at 203
,, Owners of land 202, 203
,, Alured, of Lincoln 202
„ Dispenser, Robert 202
,, Dymoke family 203
,, Gozelin 202

“Tiger Tom,” burglar 23, 24 and note

Tithe stone 163, 164

Toll-bar, leaping 238 and note

Toot-Hill 227

Travelling difficult 11 and notes

Troy Wood 227

Tumby Chase 218

Tupholme Abbey 165–167
,, Abbot, illegal acts of 166

Tyrwhitt, John, of Pentre, tablet to 213
,, J. Bradshaw, Rev., tablet to 214
,, Robert, tablet to 176


Victoria Hotel, Woodhall, built 9
,, ,, enlarged 15
„ ,, Queen 14

Vyner family 172, 173


Waterloo Monument 150

Weasels, and prey 68, 69

Weavers, village 175

Welby family 147

Well at Woodhall 9

Wells, saline, elsewhere 8, 10, 87, 99, 201, 256, note

Welles, Lord, beheaded 214

Wharf, meaning of 11 and note

p. 284White-Hall Wood murder 18

Wife-selling 181 and note

William de Karilepho 196
,, de Romara 152

Willoughby, Lord, of Knaith 132

Winceby, fight at 190

Winchester, Bishop of 221, 235

Wispington 175, 176

Witham, ran to Wainfleet 104 and note
,, a sacred stream of Druids 102 and note

Wolds 27, 258 and notes

Wong, Horncastle 187

Woodcock 35, 36

Wood Hall, the 126

Woodhall (Old) Church 200, 201
,, water discovered 9
,, Lines on 8
,, Properties of 98, 99

Woodpecker, three kinds 41

Wry-neck 47



[5]  Mr. Parkinson resided at the Hall, Old Bolingbroke, or Bolingbroke, as it was called at that date, the prefix not being then needed to distinguish the old historic market town from its modern offshoot, New Bolingbroke.  Old Bolingbroke is noted for the ruins of its ancient castle, where Henry IV. was born, and long ago gave a title to the earls “of that ilk.”

[8a]  Tradition avers that, shortly before this accident occurred, an old woman passing near the mine heard a raven—(doubtless a carrion crow)—croaking ominously as it sat on the bough of a tree hard by, and that it distinctly uttered these words, “carpse, carpse, carpse” (i.e., corpse), and this she regarded as a certain presage of some fatal occurence.  Truly the age of witches and warlocks was not yet passed.

[8b]  Mr. John Sharpe was father of the late Mrs. Michel Fynes and a relative of Mr. James Sharpe, of Claremont House, Woodhall Spa.

[8c]  In Lincolnshire dialect “heard” is commonly pronounced so as to rhyme with “appeared,” and this is said to be nearest the Saxon pronunciation.

[8d]  This was at the time of the Peninsular War, with its prolonged sieges and fearful carnage.

[9a]  Mr. John Marshall, grocer and draper.

[9b]  Mr. and Mrs. Michael Fynes—the latter the daughter of Mr. Sharpe, who wrote the foregoing verses—have told the writer of several other instances of the use of the water at this early period.

[9c]  This tank was unearthed about the year 1875 by some persons who were ratting, and the writer saw it.  It was situated at the back of the Bathhouse, and would be, to the best of his recollection, some 12ft. long by 8ft. wide, with a depth of 5ft.  It was covered up again, and has (so far as he knows) remained so ever since.

[11a]  There was a Roman brickyard, about two fields from the Bathhouse, along the pathway which now runs northwards through Coal Pit Wood and skirts Bracken Wood.  The pits are still visible where the clay was dug; also the broad “ride,” running east and west through Bracken Wood, near these pits, is said to have been a Roman road.

[11b]  In the name Kirkstead Wharf, the etymologist will recognise, in the latter portion, the old Norse “wath” or ford.  This was probably, at one time, when the river was wider and shallower, a ford for passengers and cattle.  There are many places in Yorkshire named Wath, as Wath-on-Dearne, situated on a ford on that river.  This is further confirmed by the local pronunciation of the name, which is still Kirkstead Wath, or “the Wath” par excellence.  Wath is connected with our word “wade,” and the Latin vadum, a shallow.

[11c]  The reader may gather some idea of the slowness of travel from the following particulars given to the writer by an old gentleman:—“The carrier’s cart left Horncastle at 8 a.m., arriving at Kirkstead Wath between 12 and 1 p.m.; or between four and five hours for the seven miles.  The packet for Boston passed Kirkstead at 2 p.m. and arrived at Boston at 5 p.m.  This is now done in about 50 minutes.  It would have been easy for a pedestrian to have walked direct from Horncastle to Boston in five hours, whereas by this route it took nine hours.”

[12]  As a further evidence of the difficulty, or rather the perils, of vehicular traffic in those days, the writer may here mention that he had once the unpleasant experience of being among the passengers of the aforesaid carrier’s cart, when the conveyance was overturned in the ditch, the driver being incapable of performing his duty.

[13]  I may here mention that the anomaly of “donative” benefices was abolished by Act of Parliament in 1898.

[14a]  Sir H. Dymoke, Bart., was the last champion who performed the ceremony of throwing down the glove in Westminster Hall at the coronation of the Sovereign.

[14b]  The land extending from the present schoolhouse nearly to Mill-lane was at that time crown property, with much more in the neighbourhood, since sold.

[14c]  Mr. Lewin himself presented the handsome pulpit of Caen stone, the carved poppyheads of the seats, and figures of angels in the roof.  The corbels, from which the wooden arches spring, were carved by a barber of Boston, named White, one of three brothers of humble origin, all of whom developed talent in different directions: One (Andrew) as an artist in oil-painting of no small merit,—I have seen an oil-painting by him—another in rustic garden work, and the brother in question (Robert), continuing his calling as a barber, employed his spare time in carving in stone.  The corbels in the chancel represent the Queen and Archbishop: those in the north wall of the nave bear the arms of the Rev. E. Walter and his wife; those in the south wall the arms of the Dymokes and the Hotchkin family.  The reading desk was presented by the writer in memory of his father, the Rev. E. Walter.  As a support to the Credence-table in the chancel is a stone with an effigy of a lady abbess of Stixwould Priory.  This, with the stone for the church, was given by the late Mr. Christopher Turnor, owner of the Stixwould Estate, from the Priory ruins, and, as from the rude character of the carving it is evidently of very early date, it has been supposed to represent the Lady Lucia, the foundress: unfortunately, the masonry being dug from confused heaps, covered by the soil and turf of ages, was not, in many cases, laid by the builders in its proper “layer” as it was quarried.  Consequently damp has penetrated, and frost and thaw have broken it up in many parts of the church walls.  The small coloured window by the pulpit was the gift of the writer’s eldest daughter when a child, as a thank-offering on recovering from an accident, in which she providentially escaped death, when thrown, dragged, and kicked by her run-away pony.  An engraving of the church, with description and other particulars, is to be found in the “Illustrated London News,” of September 25th, 1817.

[15]  This syndicate consisted of the Right Honourable Edward Stanhope, M.P. (since deceased), Right Honourable H. Chaplin, M.P., Sir Richard Webster, M.P., T. Cheney Garfit, Esq., Kenwick Hall, Louth, and the Rev. J. O. Stephens, Rector of Blankney.

[21a]  The date was February 2nd, 1850.  £200 reward was offered.  The writer has seen the printed proclamation of it.  Tasker was buried in the churchyard at Scrivelsby, of which benefice his master was rector.

[21b]  That he was, most probably, the guilty man is further confirmed by the following incident, vouched for by my informant, who knew him.  The keeper at Tattershall, at that time, was a man named Penny.  He, for his own reasons, had strong suspicions of the guilt of Kent, but said nothing, as he could not prove it.  Several years after, Penny retired from his post as keeper, and took a farm, a few miles distant, in Timberland Fen.  The man Kent, on one occasion called upon him to buy some chickens.  In the course of conversation, Penny suddenly turned upon Kent, and said, “What a thing it was that you shot Tasker, as you did!”  Kent was so taken by surprise, and confused by the remark, that he at once went away without completing his bargain.  It is not, however, little remarkable, that, although no one was convicted of this murder, one of the suspected men, a few years later, committed suicide, another left the country, going out to Australia, and a third died of consumption.  This looks, presumably, in all three cases, as though conscience was at work, condemning them, although the law was powerless.  A tombstone was erected to the memory of Richard Tasker, by his master, in Scrivelsby Churchyard, stating that he “was cruelly murdered” in his service.

[24]  A cast was taken of “Tiger Tom’s” head, after the execution; and a mould from it now forms an ornament over the door of No. 31, Boston-road, Horncastle: at present occupied by Mr. Arthur Buttery, but formerly the residence of Mr. William Boulton (grandfather of Mr. W. Boulton, landlord of the Great Northern Hotel), who was present at the execution, and obtained the cast at that time.  The features are certainly not prepossessing.  Another cast is in the possession of Mr. Robert Longstaff, Mareham Road, Horncastle, lately residing at Halstead Hall.

[27a]  “Over Fen and Wold,” by J. J. Hissey, 1898, p. 290.  Mr. Hissey, with his wife, made a driving tour from London to Lincolnshire, and round the county, staying for some days at Woodhall.  Anyone who wishes to read a delightfully entertaining account of the chief objects of interest in the county, and in the approach to it, cannot do better than get this book.

[27b]  So far from Lincolnshire being all on a dead level, there is a stiff gradient on the Great Northern line, as it passes through the county, about 2 miles from Essendine, where an elevation is attained about 10ft. higher than the cross of St. Paul’s Cathedral; and only some 10ft. lower than the highest point, at Grant’s House, near Berwick.  On the old Coach-road from London to Edinburgh, the worst hill in the whole distance is that of Gonerby, near Grantham, Lincolnshire.  “Over Fen and Wold,” p. 417.

[27c]  Quoted by Sir Charles Anderson, in his “Pocket Guide to Lincoln.”  “Harr” is an old Lincolnshire terra for “fog.”  A “sea-harr” is a mist drifting inland from the sea.

[28a]  Song, 25; date, 1612.

[28b]  “Over Fen and Wold,” pp. 195–6.

[31]  The above lists are, of course, only selections.  Indeed, on the occasion to which the last list refers, one of the party produced a series of water-colour paintings of wild flowers which are found in the neighbourhood, beautifully executed by Dr. Burgess, of Spilsby, and numbering about 500.

[32]  In speaking of the silene quinque vulneralis, on a previous page, I said that there was no absolute reason why it should not re-appear in the garden of the Victoria Hotel.  The holy thistle is a case in point.  Several years ago seeing that it was being steadily exterminated, and that the end was inevitably near, the writer transplanted a root to his own garden.  It flourished there through two seasons, but was eventually, by mistake, “improved” away, when the garden beds were being dug over.  To his surprise, some years after, a vigorous plant of it was found growing in his kitchen garden among the potatoes.  Alas!  That also has now gone the way of all thistle flesh.

[33]  “Bage” is an old Lincolnshire word meaning a sod.  In the overseer’s accounts of the neighbouring parish of Roughton occurs this entry twice in the year 1707: “2s. 6d. paid for one day’s work of church moor bages”; i.e., peat cut for fuel.

[34a]  The birch trees of the neighbourhood, with their silvery bark and light and elegant foliage have been very much reduced in numbers, as the wood is used for “clogs” in the manufacturing districts of Yorkshire and elsewhere.

[34b]  There is a “Pyewipe” Inn at Lincoln, and Pyewipe Hall, near Kirton-in-Lindsey.

[34c]  This may seem to the ordinary uninitiated mind to be a stretch of the imagination; but if we are to believe Mr. Cornish, the old practised gunners on our coasts, who make the cries of our wild fowl a life-long study can almost understand them as well as human speech.  See “Animals, their Life and Conversation,” by C. J. Cornish.

[34d]  They also frequented other moorlands in the north of the county, in the neighbourhood of Market Rasen and Caistor.

[35]  The writer has enjoyed the privilege (often a welcome relief from hard literary, and other labours) of shooting over this ground for more than a quarter of a century, having known it for double that period.  His father-in-law had it before him; a genuine sportsman of the old type, being one of a trio, who clung to the last, even far into the seventies, to the old flint gun—the late General Hall, of Sixmile Bottom, near Newmarket, being the second, and I believe the famous sportsman, Sir Richard Sutton, the third, two of whose guns became the property of my father-in-law.  Only one man was left in the kingdom who made the flints.  A grand weapon was a genuine “flint” of old “Joe” Manton; with plenty of metal, a hard hitter, and often equally serviceable when converted into a breech-loader.  Its only drawbacks were, that the exposure of the powder rendered it uncertain in damp weather; and the slowness of ignition; but this latter, to a sportsman who had known no other “arm of precision,” was little hindrance, and naturally, entered into his calculations whenever he pulled trigger.

[36a]  The writer, from one cause or another, has probably had a unique experience of shooting in the neighbourhood of Woodhall and elsewhere.  To say nothing of shooting in nine other counties, he at one time shot over the whole of the Kirkstead estate.  During the absence from home of the late owner of the Woodhall estate, T. J. Stafford Hotchkin, Esq., when residing abroad, he, with a friend, shot over all Woodhall.  Within the nineties, he, with two others, rented the greater part of the Woodhall shooting for three years.  He has shot, at one time or another, in more than 50 parishes in the county.  Tempora Mutantur.  Probably hard times have had an astringent effect on the hospitality of the shooting fraternity.

[36b]  I quote from a poem, long ago out of print, written by Richard Ellison, Esq. (of Boultham), entitled “Kirkstead, or the Pleasures of Shooting,” and published in 1837; the proceeds of its sale to be given to the funds of a fancy fair held in aid of Lincoln County Hospital.

[38]  Another anecdote of the said keeper may here be given, which is amusing.  Soon after the above incident he gave notice to quit his place, in order (as he said) to better himself.  He had often heard me descant on the charms of grouse shooting and deer-stalking, and he came to me to ask me to help him to a situation in Scotland.  I got him the post of keeper on a large moor on the shores of Loch Ness.  He was a man with a big head, a bulky body, and with rather weak bandy legs (not unlike many a sketch in “Punch”), and though a good English keeper, and able to stride along through the turnips, in a level country like our own, he was not adapted for mountaineering.  One season in the Highlands cooled his ardour, and the very next year he called on me again, being out of place.  “Well,” I asked my friend, “how is it you’re here again”?  “To tell you the truth, sir,” he replied, “I could not stand those barelegged Highland gillies.  [N.B.—He had, himself, no fine calves to show.]  They were always a-laughing at me.  And their gaelic was worse than Latin and Greek.  You’ll never catch me in Scotland again.”  We can picture to ourselves the bandy legs bearing the unwieldly body up a steep brae side; stumbling over loose stones, struggling through the tall heather, till breathless he would pause, while the agile gillies would, chuckling, leave him behind; pause and ponder with the conclusion not slowly arrived at, “What a fool I was to leave Woodhall for work like this.”  The Sassenach was indeed out of his element on the Scotch hills.  He took my advice; picked up a wife half his own age, and now keeps a country public-house, where he can recount his Scotch and other adventures at the bar.

[39]  This is also confirmed by a writer in the “Naturalist,” of 1895, p. 67.  He says the bird “is very erratic in its nesting habits.”  He has found its egg in a pheasant’s nest, and in two cases the egg laid on the bare ground.  Only last season I myself found an egg lying without any nest.

[40]  This peculiar protective property is not confined to the partridge, but seems to apply to game birds generally.  The keeper on the Woodhall shooting reported to me, on one occasion, that a pheasant had nested close to a footpath, where she was certain to be disturbed, and asked permission to take the eggs to hatch under one of his hens.  Mr. E. M. Cole reports in the “Naturalist” of 1892, p. 182, Phasianus Colchicus nest of seven or eight eggs “found May 6th, on the road margin.”  Mr. J. Watson, in his book “Sylvan Folk,” says: “A party of ornithologists were trying to get a specimen of the ptarmigan in breeding plumage, but failed up to luncheon time.  Sitting down, the lunch was unstrapped from a pony, and a strap fell on a ptarmigan, sitting, actually, under the pony.  On another occasion a dog sat down upon the hen ptarmigan, which it had not discovered in the middle of the party.”—“Sylvan Folk,” p. 147, Fisher Unwin, 1889.

[42]  The writer once witnessed a fight in the air between a kite and a heron.  Hearing a confused sound of harsh cries overhead, he looked up, and soon caught sight of two large birds wheeling round and round, each apparently doing its utmost to get above the other.  The two, however, were very evenly matched, for, whereas the kite had its strong beak and talons, deadly weapons for seizing and rending when at close quarters, and could make a powerful swoop at his prey—the heron, though an awkward bird in the air, and ungainly in its movements, had yet its long, sharp, bill, with which it could receive its enemy as it were “at point of bayonet,” and even transfix him, should he make a reckless onset.  Again and again, when the kite succeeded in getting uppermost, he would make a rapid downward swoop upon the heron; but as he neared the latter, he was forced swiftly to turn aside, to avoid being pierced through by the long bill.  This went on for a considerable time, the two birds by turns surmounting each other, until they were lost to view in a cloud; and as to which ultimately gained the day, “witness deponeth not.”

As Mary Howitt prettily says;—

Up, up into the skies,
   Thy strenuous pinions go;
While shouts, and cries, and wondering eyes
   Still reach thee from below.
But higher and higher, like a spirit of fire,
   Still o’er thee hangs thy foe;
Thy cruel foe, still seeking
   With one down-plunging aim
To strike thy precious life
   For ever from thy frame;
But doomed, perhaps, as down he darts,
   Swift as the rustling wind,
Impaled upon thy upturned beak,
   To leave his own behind.

To the Heron

[44a]  The writer, when the sport of hawking was revived some 40 years ago by the late Mr. Barr, witnessed several trials of his hawks, and himself tried hawking with the sparrow-hawk on a small scale.  A great friend of his took up the sport at one time, and spent a good deal of money on it in securing good birds and well trained; but it almost invariably resulted in their getting away.  Failing to kill his quarry, the bird would fly wildly about in search of it, thus getting beyond recall, and so would eventually go off and resume its wild habits.  After losing a hawk for some days, the writer has caught sight of it again, called it, and swung his “lure” in the air to attract it.  The hawk has come and fluttered about him, almost within arm’s length, but carefully eluded being taken; and so, after a little playful dalliance, has flown away again.

[44b]  Lord Lilford, the great naturalist, states that a pair of owls, with their adult progeny, will, in three months, rid the land of no less than 10,000 vermin; and Frank Buckland states that he found the remains of 20 dead rats in one owl’s nest.

[45]  Among his various pets the writer has tried to keep owls, but not with success.  On one occasion he brought home two young birds, taken from a nest on the moor.  They were put into an empty pigeon-cote.  The next morning they were found dead, with their claws, in fatal embrace, buried deep in each other’s eyes.  At another time he reared a couple, and got them fairly tame.  They were allowed to go out at night to forage for themselves.  But on one occasion, for the delectation of some visitors, he turned them out in the afternoon before dusk, and (presumably), taking offence at the affront put upon them, they never returned to their quarters.  For a time he heard them in the dusk, and when he called they would even hover about him, uttering a low kind of purr but keeping carefully out of his reach.

[46a]  The writer on Jan. 7, 1899, walking along a footpath, saw a pedlar who was meeting him, suddenly stop, and poke out a sort of bundle from the hedge-bottom with is stick.  On coming up to him he asked what he had got.  The reply was “One of the varmints that kill the ducks”; i.e., hedgehog.  On his saying that he did not believe that the creature did anything of the kind, the pedlar replied, rather indignantly, that he knew an instance where a hedgehog had killed 20 ducks in a night.  While, however, claiming for the hedgehog, mainly an insect, or vegetable diet, we are aware that it is open to the soft impeachment, that it does not object, like some of its betters, to an occasional “poached egg,” whether of duck, chicken, or partridge; and cases are on record of its being caught in flagrante delicto, as mentioned by Mr. E. L. Arnold, in his Bird Life in England.

[46b]  The term “sewer” does not at all imply that this stream was ever used for sewerage purposes.  It is a survival from old times, once meaning a drain or water course.  Commissioners of sewers were appointed by Henry VIII. under the “Statute of Sewers.”  But the same bucolic mind which can see in the most graceful church tower in the kingdom “Boston Stump,” gives the name of “Sewer” to a stream pellucid enough to be a fount of Castaly.

[47]  There are several other birds occasionally about Woodhall, but they can hardly be counted among the regular denizens of the district.  The curlew has recently been seen during a whole season, doubtless nesting somewhere in the neighbourhood, though the nest has not been found.  The Green Sand-piper (Totanus Octaopus) frequents some of our ponds, but only as a bird of passage; the writer has occasionally shot them.  The Razorbill (Alca Torda) is sometimes blown inland to us.  A specimen was caught a few years ago, in an exhausted state, by some boys in Woodhall, and brought to the writer.  A Little Auk (Alca Arctica) was caught under similar circumstances some years ago.  A specimen of the Scoter, or Surf-Duck (Oidemia perspicillata), was brought to him, exhausted, but alive.  He took care of it, and fed it.  It recovered, and eventually regained its freedom, and was seen no more.  Two stuffed specimens of that rare bird, the Ruff and Reeve, may be seen at the house of Mr. Charles Fixter, farmer, within three fields of the Bathhouse, Woodhall.  They were shot by a Woodhall keeper, at Huttoft, near the sea coast.

[49]  In connection with this decoy, it may be added that, in order to prevent the wild ducks being disturbed, no shooting was allowed anywhere near it.  There was a large rabbit warren close by, where a peculiar kind of wild rabbit, black with silver hairs, bred in great numbers.  These, as they could not be shot, were caught in large deep pits with trap doors.  The skins were exported to Prussia, to make busbies for the soldiers, while the bodies were sent to Hull market.  For the entertainment of sporting readers, it may be further mentioned that the relative and his son were “crack” shots.  The old gentleman rode a shooting-pony, and fired from his thigh, instead of from the shoulder.  A wager was, on one occasion, laid between father and son as to which would miss his game first.  They each fired 18 shots before a miss occurred.  Which of the two was the defaulter, the writer “deponeth not”; but in either case it was not a bad score.  Sir John Astley, in his autobiography, mentions that when he was invalided home from the Crimea, having been wounded in the neck, he, for some time, could not get his arm up, and shot from the thigh, and managed to kill his rabbits.  In the case of my relative long practice had made perfect.

[53a]  Mr. A. E. Pease, M.P., in his volume “Hunting Reminiscences, 1898,” in a chapter on badger hunting, says: “In countries where mange in foxes has become a scourge, the preservation of badgers would do much to remove this plague, for they are wonderful cleansers of earths.”

[53b]  It is to be hoped that the cruel sport of badger baiting is no longer indulged in, although not many years ago (1888), there appeared in the columns of the “Exchange and Mart,” the following advertisement: “Very fine large badger and baiting cage, in good condition; price 20s.”

[54a]  Badger hunting, a more legitimate sport, is still carried on in a few rare instances.  A friend of the writer, for several years, kept badger hounds in Gloucestershire, where these animals, are still fairly numerous, and the writer still possesses the skin of a badger killed by his hounds.  A variety of hounds are used for this sport.  There is the “smell dog” to track the quarry by his trail left in the previous night; the pack of more ordinary dogs to hunt him, and the plucky, smaller dog, who “draws” him from his retreat.  It takes a good dog to beard the badger.

[54b]  “Nature Notes, vol. v., 1894, p. 98.”

[55a]  The late Mr. E. R. Alston, F.Z.S., Selbourne Magazine Vol. ii., p. 169.

[55b]  Mr. W. Cartmell.  Ibidem.

[55c]  The Rev. E. Adrian Woodruffe-Peacock, F.L.S., F.G.S., secretary of the Lincolnshire Naturalists’ Union, has assured me, that, seeing a pike lying dead on the river bank, with the shoulder eaten away in the above manner, he has watched it for two days, but the otter never returned.  And Mr. H. C. Hey, Derwent House, West Ayrton, York, mentions a similar case.  (“The Naturalist,” 1895, p. 106).  While a writer in The Globe (April 30, 1896) says that he has seen half-a-dozen bream dead on a river bank, from not one of which has the otter taken more than this one bite.

[55d]  See again Nature Notes, quoted above.

[56]  To shew that the writer is not “speaking without book” in calling this neighbourhood a stronghold of Reynard in former years, it is sufficient to quote two or three of the entries in the accounts of the Parish Overseer of Woodhall, still preserved in the chest at Woodhall Church.





“1806, March 30.—Needham’s boy for a fox




“1806, April 6.—Paid for foxes



“1814, April 11.—Paid for foxes




The slaughter of foxes, even in the 19th century, was thus remunerated at the rate of 1s. each; yet, in Woodhall, they would seem to have been so plentiful, that for such services, with other incidental expenses (such, probably, as traps, &c.), as much as £1 12s. 2½d. was paid in one year.  Since those days, there has been a reaction in public sentiment.  Nous avons changé tout cela, and instead of putting a price on Reynard’s head, we value his brush, and give him general protection.

[57]  This is confirmed by the late Sir John Astley, who states that, as a boy, he often gave wood-pigeons, rabbits, and rats to a litter of fox cubs, kept by their keeper within a wire fence, and they almost invariably preferred the rat.—“Fifty Years of My Life,” by Sir J. Astley.  Vol. i., p. 245.

[61]  “Hinerarium,” vol. vi., p. 58, 1710.

[62a]  Part of the Glebe of Kirkby-on-Bain.

[62b]  I take haphazard two or three entries from my shooting diary, recording the produce of a morning’s walk, alone, on the moor, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  “Oct. 4, 1874.—9 hares, 8 pheasants, 3 brace of partridges, 2 couple of rabbits, 3 woodpigeons, 2 waterhens.”  “Oct. 1877.—10 hares, 7 pheasants, 4½ brace of partridges, 2 woodcock, 2 couple of rabbits.”  “Jan. 29, 1878.—5 pheasants, 4 hares, 2 brace of partridges, 2½ couple of rabbits, 3 woodcock, 2 woodpigeon, 1 waterhen, 2 snipe.”

[63]  The bag that day (Nov. 1877) was 352 hares, 14 pheasants, 8 partridges, 4 rabbits.  I also find the following brief entry: “Nov. 7, 1878—Shot with a party in Kirkstead, killing to my own gun nearly 60 hares.”  And again, “Oct. 19, 1876.  Shot with a friend in Kirkstead, 15 brace of partridges, 6 brace of pheasants, and 10 hares.”  To show that the Kirkstead and Tattershall shootings still maintain their excellence, I give here the bag on a more recent occasion.  “Oct. 12, 1894.—In Kirkstead a party shot, in the open, 70 brace of partridges, 1 pheasant, and 110 hares.”  At Tattershall in the same year a party killed 531 hares in three days.  I have mentioned above, the Tattershall shooting as being “nearly as good as that of Kirkstead.”  I give here a note or two of sport on that estate: “Sep. 21, 1876.—Shot with Mr. S. (the lessee of the shooting) the Witham side of Tattershall.  Bag: 25 hares, 9 brace of partridges.”  “Sep. 25.—Shot on the same ground, 7 hares, 26 brace of partridges.”  On the Woodhall ground, hares were always few in number, the soil not seeming to suit them; but among partridges I have shared in good sport.  I give two entries as samples: “Sep. 16, 1873.—Shot with Captain H. (lessee of the shooting) 30½ brace of partridges and 2 hares.”  And again, “Nov. 16, 1872.—Shot for the third day, Bracken Wood.  Total bag, rather more than 400 pheasants in the three days; rabbits, over 150, and 20 woodcock.”

[65]  Other instances of albinos are not uncommon, but more among birds than quadrupeds.  I find among my notes the following: “Albino shrew mouse caught at Ackworth, near Pontefract, June, 1895; white robin at Whitby, Jan., 1896; ditto at Boston, Sept., 1898; white woodcock nested in Manby Woods, near Louth, with four young of the usual colour, July, 1892; buff woodcock shot at Bestwood, Nottingham, Feb. 1892; white landrail shot at Kedleston, near Derby, Sept., 1892; white thrush caught at Nidderdale, November 1892; cream-coloured skylark shot near Harrogate, Sept., 1891; white jay—two young specimens shot near York, 1893; white sand martin caught at Killinghall, near Harrogate, July, 1898; at Brackenborough, near Louth, there were two coveys of partridges, in the season of 1896–7, with white specimens among them: and at Stonehouse, in Gloucestershire, a covey of mixed white and brown partridges were reported in 1897.  A buff hare was shot near Bourne in 1897.”  A white black-buck was killed by a friend in Kattiawar, India, in 1897, and I have a stuffed specimen of buff blackbird, caught some years ago in the vicarage garden at Woodhall: the parent birds having buff young two seasons in succession.

[67]  In the Southdowns, the hills are called “Downs,” and the valleys “Deans,” or sometimes by the Devonshire term “Coomb.”

[69]  Essays on Natural History, Third Series, p. 169.  Ed. 1857.

[71a]  Gilbert White mentions this habit of “snakes stinking, se defendendo.  A friend (he says) kept a tame snake, in its own person as sweet as any animal; but as soon as a stranger, a cat, or a dog entered the room, it fell to hissing, and filled the room with such nauseous effluvia as rendered it hardly supportable.”  Natural History, Selbourne, p. 90.  Ed. 1829.

[71b]  Brusher, a well-known character in the New Forest, Hampshire, says he has seen hundreds of snakes swallow their young in time of danger.  “The New Forest,” by R. C. de Crespigny and Horace Hutchinson.

[74]  Several kinds of fish which we now think coarse or insipid, would doubtless become, through the culinary skill of the monastic chef “savoury dishes” such as even a lordly abbot’s soul might relish.  For the benefit of readers who may like to try the fish of our district under most favourable conditions, I here give two or three recipes for cooking them.  Francatelli, no mean authority, says, “a pike cooked properly can hold its own against many fish from the sea.”  Boiled with horseradish sauce and mustard it makes an excellent dish.  Perch, with sorrel sauce and mayonnaise, is equally good.  Carp, fried with butter, is excellent.  Chub, taken in frosty weather, are firm, at other times rather flabby, but treated in either of the above ways they are more than palatable.  Roach, cooked on a gridiron, with butter, make a nice breakfast.  Tench, with port wine sauce, are a luxury.  Eels, though despised in Scotland, are very good stewed.

[76a]  Lincoln Records, quoted in Sir Charles Anderson’s “Pocket Guide of Lincoln,” p. 107.  The spelling “wesh” agrees with the local pronunciation of the present day.

[76b]  Mr. S. Cheer, of Horncastle.

[76c]  Mr. W. Bryant, of Horncastle.

[78]  Rev. C. D. Ash, Skipwith Vicarage.  Naturalist, 1896, pp. 302 and 303.

[79a]  Mr. J. Watson, in his very interesting book, “Sylvan Folk,” states (p. 232) that a single swan will destroy a gallon of trout ova in a day.

[79b]  Mr. W. Bryant.

[79c]  Aaron Rushton.

[80a]  This fine specimen of the salmo fario was bought by the late Rev. J. W. King, of sporting celebrity, to put into the lake at Ashby-de-la-Launde, to improve the breed of trout there.

[80b]  In one part of “The Brook,” the Laureate has taken a “poetic licence,” when he says:

“I wind about, and in and out,
   With here a blossom sailing.
And here and there a lusty trout,
   And here and there a grayling.”

There are no grayling in the Somersby beck.

[81]  For brothers “of the cloth” with piscatorial proclivities, who visit Woodhall, the writer would point to this means of healthful relaxation, which he can recommend from experience.  Any qualms of the clerical conscience as to the legitimacy of such an avocation—a wholesome calling away from graver duties—may be set at rest on episcopal, and even archi-episcopal, authority.  The late Archbishop Magee was an ardent fisherman, and would go on flogging on Irish lough or river, even though he did not get a single rise.  (See “Life of W. Connor Magee,” by J. C. McDonnell.)  And the writer once read, with much enjoyment, an article on salmon fishing in the “Quarterly Review,” which was attributed to the versatile pen of the Bishop of Winchester, better known as “Samuel of Oxford,” who sought occasional relief from his almost superhuman labours on the banks of a Highland river.

[84a]  The exception to which allusion is here made is the village of South Scarle, about six miles from Lincoln, where a deep boring was made in 1876, in search of coal.  The depth attained was 2,029 feet, or nearly twice that of the Woodhall well; but as only the upper layer of the coal measures was thus reached, and it was calculated that actual coal would be some 1,600 feet lower still, or a total depth of 3,600 feet, the boring was abandoned.  The strata passed through were found to be as follows: Alluvial or drift, 10ft.; lower lias clay and limestone, 65ft. rhœtic beds, 66ft.; the three triassic formations, new red marl (Keuper), lower keuper sandstone, new red sandstone, 1,359ft.; upper permian marls, upper magnesian limestone, middle permian marls, lower magnesian limestone, permian marl slates, with basement of breccia, 619ft.; and upper coal measures, 10ft.; total, 2,029ft.

[84b]  See end of Chapter I. on The History of the Well.

[85a]  We have the testimony of two of the labourers employed in the shaft (Cheeseman and Belton) who agree in giving this depth.  They also state that the particular stratum was 54ft. thick; that the set of the current was from south-east to north-west, running from a crack in one side of the shaft into a corresponding crack in the opposite side, and that they both assisted in making a brick and cement lining to the shaft, leaving a channel behind for the water to run round half the circumference, from crack to crack.

[85b]  We may further add that it is at the junction of the Northampton sand with the underlying lias, that we find numerous springs in other parts of the county; as at Navanby, Waddington, Lincoln, Blyborough, Kirton, and several other places.  The Government “Geological Survey Memoir” for the country around Lincoln (p. 208) agrees in saying that the Woodhall water comes from the “inferior oolite” which comprises the Northampton sands.

[87a]  “Life of Nansen, 1881–1893,” by W. C. Brögger and Nordahl Rolfsen.  (Longmans, 1896, pp. 350–357).

[87b]  Ibidem, p. 139.

[88a]  Ibidem, p. 123.

[88b]  This subject has been fully gone into by Mr. P. F. Kendall, F.G.S., in his article “The Cause of an Ice-age,” contributed to the “Transactions of the Leeds Geological Association,” part viii.  Other ice-streams also passed down various alleys from Teesdale to Airedale, and the Ouse.

[88c]  See an article “On the Occurrence of Shap Granite Boulders in Lincolnshire,” by Mr. W. T. Sheppard, in the “Naturalist” of 1896, pp. 333–339.  Also the “Presidential Address to the Yorkshire Naturalists’ Union,” by J. Cordeaux, F.R.G.S., M.B.O.U., in the “Naturalist” for 1897, pp. 195, 6.  See also a very interesting article in the “Fortnightly Review,” November, 1863, on “The Ice-age and its Work,” by A. R. Wallace, F.R.S.

[89a]  Mr. J. Cordeaux gives this thickness in the “Naturalist” (1897, p. 186).  Professor J. Geikie says it “did not exceed 3,500ft. or 4,000ft. at most, and would take 3,000ft. as an average.”  (“The Glacial Period and Earth Movement,” a paper read before the Victoria Institute in 1893.  Trans. No. 104, pp. 221–249, where also the question is largely considered of the causes of the Ice-age).

[89b]  Mr. Wallace says; “Every mountain group, north of the Bristol channel, was a centre from which, in the Ice-age, glaciers radiated; these became confluent, extensive ice-sheets, which overflowed into the Atlantic on the west, and spread far over the English lowlands on the east and south.”  “The Ice-age and its work.”—“Fortnightly Review,” Nov., 1893, p., 269.

[90]  Quoted by Mr. Wallace in “The Fortnightly,” p. 630.

[91a]  Quoted from “Glacialist’s Magazine,” “Fortnightly Review,” Nov., 1893, p. 631.

[91b]  A list of Scandinavian boulders, which have been found in Lincolnshire is given by Mr. T. Sheppard, in the “Glacialists’ Magazine,” vol. iii, 1895, p. 129.  Notices of lakeland boulders are given in the “Naturalist” of 1897, pp. 67, 103–104, 195–6, 283–4; and of 1898, pp. 17–20,85–87, 133–138, 221–224.  In the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society for May, 1885, Mr. Jukes Brown gives the general range of the boulder clay in Lincolnshire, while its range of flanking rocks in our own more immediate neighbourhood is treated of in the Government Geological Survey of “Lincoln and the Country around,” pp. 2, 122–129, 155, 156.

[91c]  The average rate of a glacier has been computed at 64 inches for the four summer months; in other cases one inch a day.  The progress, of course, varies with the slope or smoothness of its bed, and is more rapid in the centre than at the sides, where it scrapes against flanking rocks.

[92]  Sydney B. J. Skertchly, F.G.S., joint author of a valuable work, entitled “The Fenland, Past and present.”

[93a]  Geological Survey, p. 79.

[93b]  At Bardney, Baumber, Horncastle, West Ashby, and Fulletby, &c.  Geological Survey, 79–81.

[93c]  These beds of inflammable shale are also found on the coast of Dorset, and are worked by levels driven into the cliff.  This clay indeed receives its name Kimeridge, from a Dorset village, on the coast, near Corfe Castle and Poole.

[94a]  Mr. Jeans, in “Murrey’s Handbook of Lincolnshire,” [p. 6] puts the total thickness of the various cretaceous formations at “about 1,000ft.”

[94b]  Geological Survey, pp. 207–209.

[95a]  Ibedem.

[95b]  Quarterly Journal, Geol. Soc., vol. xxxi., p. 125.

[95c]  Geological Survey, pp. 202–206.

[95d]  Geological Survey, pp. 203–206.

[95e]  Ibidem.

[96a]  Ibidem, pp. 198–222.

[96b]  White’s Dictionary of Lincolnshire.  Article on the Geology by W. J. Harrison, F.G.S.

[97a]  Quoted Ibidem.

[97b]  Geolog. Survey Memoir of S. Yorks and N. Linc. p. 3.

[97c]  Mr. F. M. Burton, F.L.S., F.G.S., Naturalist, 1894, p. 251.  In “A Selection of Papers relative to the County of Lincoln,” read before the Lincolnshire Topographical Society, published by W. and B. Brooke, 1843, there is a paper by W. Bedford on the Geology of Lincoln.  He divides the rocks into 26 beds, commencing from the north of the Cathedral and descending to the bed of the Witham.  He gives a very interesting coloured section, showing these different strata, where the springs arise beneath the oolite; then the ferruginous gravels, the clunch clay, and the lias underlaying all.

[97d]  Geolog. Survey, “Around Lincoln,” pp. 33–35.

[98a]  Article on Geology, White’s Lincolnshire, p. 70.

[98b]  Ibidem.

[98c]  Taken from a paper read by Surgeon-Major Cuffe, V.D., before the British Medical Congress, held in London, August, 1895.

[99a]  The original analysis of Mr. West gave some properties not noticed by Professor Frankland as follows:—

In one gallon.


Chloride of Sodium


„ Potassium


„ Magnesium


„ Calcium


Bromide of Sodium


Iodide of Sodium


Bi-carbonate of Soda


Carbonate of Lime


,, Iron




[99b]  Smith’s Dict. of Bible.  Art., “The Salt Sea,” and The Dead Sea and Bible Lands,” by F. de Saulcy.

[99c]  Geolog. Survey Memoir, p. 210.

[99d]  Information by R. Harrison, at one time resident at the farm where the well was sunk.  Geolog. Survey, p. 205.

[99e]  The Roman generals are supposed to have imported Belgian workmen, and by their aid, with their own soldiers, and the forced labour of the Britons, to have made the huge embankments, of which there are remains still existing in “The Roman Bank,” near Sutterton and Algarkirk, Bicker, and other places.  The Car Dyke, skirting the Fens, on the west, some four miles from Kirkstead, was their work, and a few miles westward is Ermine Street, the great Roman highway, which stretches from Sauton on the Humber to London.

[101a]  The revolution effected in the drainage of the Fens was not accomplished without considerable and even violent opposition on the part of many of the inhabitants, who thought that their interests were being ruthlessly disregarded, and in some cases even their means of subsistence destroyed.  The state of affairs at this period, and the measures resorted to, are very graphically described in the historic novel, “A daughter of the Fens,” written by Mr. J. T. Bealby.  This book the present writer would recommend to visitors to our Lincolnshire health-resort, as likely to give them an interest in the neighbourhood.

[101b]  Mr. H. Preston, F.G.S., of Grantham, goes into the matter rather fully in the “Naturalist” of 1898, pp. 247–255; as also Mr. F. M. Burton, F.L.S., F.G.S., of Gainsborough had previously done, in the “Naturalist” of 1895, pp. 273–280.

[102]  Dr. Oliver (in his “Religious houses on the Witham,” appendix pp. 165–167) says: “The honours of the Witham may be inferred, not only from the consecrated spots and temples (once existent) on its banks, but from its very names.  It was called Grant-avon, or the divine stream; and Cwaith-Ket, i.e. the work or river of “Ket” (Ked or Keridwen, the Druid goddess Ceres).  Ket survives in Catley, not far from the Witham.  The river was worshipped as her embodiment.  Oliver adds: “The sacred places on its banks were more numerous, perhaps than those of any other river in Britain.”  It will be apparent, to anyone that the name Witham is not a river name at all, but that of a village, the village near which the river rises.  In the time of Leland, the antiquary (circa 1550) it was known as the Lindis.  He says: “There be four ferys upon the water of Lindis betwixt Lincoln and Boston.  Shut (Short) Fery, Tatershaul Fery, Dogdick Fery, Langreth Fery” (quoted by Mr. G. Sills, Archl. His. Wash., “Lin. N. and Q.,” Nat. His. section, July, 1897, p. 108).  But Mr. Taylor tells us (in his “Words and Places,” p. 130) that “throughout the whole of England there is hardly a single river name which is not Celtic,” and accordingly the Celtic name of the Witham was Grant-avon (avon meaning “river”), while the town upon it was Grantham.  It was also known by the names “Rhe” and “Aye,” the former Celtic, the latter Saxon or Danish.  “Lin. N. and Q.,” vol. ii., p. 222.

[103a]  “Introduction to vol. on “The Geology arounde Lincoln.”  Government Geolog. Survey Memoir.

[103b]  “Naturalist,” 1895, p. 274.

[103c]  The late Mr. W. H. Wheeler, one of our ablest engineers, held the opinion that there was a time when the Witham, by a somewhat similar process, instead of passing through “the Lincoln Gap,” if it then existed, found its way through a low tract of country northward into the Trent, and so passed out into the Humber.  See “Lincolnshire Notes and Queries,” vol. i., pp. 53, 54, and 213.  It would almost seem that the poet Drayton had an idea of something of this kind, when he says of the Witham—

“Leaving her former course in which she first set forth,
Which seemed to have been directly to the north,
She runs her silver front into the muddy fen
. . . coming down,
. . . to lively Botolph’s town.”

Polyolbion, song xxv.

It may here be added that the antiquary, Stukely, who at one time lived at Boston was of opinion, that the Witham, at one period, diverged from its present channel a little below Tattershall, about Dogdyke, to the east, and through various channels, which are now drains, found its way to Wainfleet and there debouched into the sea.  And an old map of Richard of Cirencester, in the 14th century, confirms this.

[105a]  “Naturalist,” 1895, pp. 230, 231.

[105b]  This “celt,” as they are called, has been exhibited by the writer at more than one scientific meeting.  It is still in the possession of Mr. Daft, who would doubtless be glad to show it to any one wishing to see it.—N.B.—the term “celt” is not connected with the name Celtic or Keltic, but is frem a Latin word celtis, or celtes; meaning a chisel, and used in the Vulgate, Job xix., 24, the classic word is cœlum.

[106a]  Gov. Geolog. Survey, “Country round Lincoln,” p. 161, now in the possession of Mr. Fox, land surveyor, of Coningby.

[106b]  S. B. J. Skertchly, “Fenland,” p. 344.

[107]  A representation of Chaucer on horseback, in a MS. on vellum, of the Canterbury Tales, in the possession of the Duke of Sutherland, and reproduced as a frontispiece to “Illustrations of the lives of Gower and Chaucer,” by H. J. Todd, F.S.A., 1810, shows the anelace hanging from a button on the breast of his surcoat.  It was usually worn at the girdle, except in the case of ecclesiastics.  M. Paris mentions Petrus de Rivallis as “gestans anelacium ad lumbare, quod clericum non decebat.”  The present writer possesses what he believes is an anelace, which was found among the ruins of a cottage on the Kirkstead Abbey estate some 25 years ago.  He exhibited it at a meeting in London of the Archæological Institute, in November, 1882, where it was described as a “beautiful knife handle, decorated with nielli of Italian character.”  It is of blue enamel, beautifully chased with an elegant filigree pattern in silver.  It has also been pronounced by an authority to be Byzantine work.  As being found near the ruins of Kirkstead Abbey, we might well imagine it to have hung at the girdle, or from the breast, of some sporting ecclesiastic; and to have belonged to the jewelled blade,

Wherewith some lordly abbot, in the chase,
Gave to the deer “embossed” his coup de grace.

[108a]  The conserving properties of the mud ooze is remarkable.  The “Philosophical Transactions” mention a human body dug up in the Isle of Axholme, of great antiquity, judging by the structure of the sandals on its feet, yet the skin was soft and pliable, like doe-skin leather, and the hair remained upon it.-—“Lincs. N. & Q.”  Vol. III., p. 197.

[108b]  This relic of not less that 1700 years ago is further interesting from the fact that the bone, of which it is made, was proved to be that of a horse, yet the horse must have been smaller than any of the present day, except the Shetland pony.  The Britons are known to have had horses of great size, which excited the admiration of Cæsar; which survived in the huge war-horse carrying the great weight of the mail-clad Norman knight in the active exercises of the tournament; and the descendants of which are the Shire horses of to-day.—“The Old English Warhorse,” by Sir Walter Gilbey.  We may add here, as an interesting fact, that there is evidence to show that the horses of our neighbourhood were specially valued, as far back as the time of the Commonwealth.  Cromwell wrote to an acquaintance, “I will give you sixty pieces for that black [horse] you won [in battle] at Horncastle”; and on the acquaintance not jumping at the offer, he wrote again, “I will give you all you ask for the black you won the last fight.”—Quoted, “Animals and their Conversations,” p. 85, by C. J. Cornish.

[108c]  The bolt of a crossbow was forged square, hence its name “quarrel,” from “carre,” or “quarre,”—square.—“Lincs. N. & Q.”  Vol. IV, p. 21.

[108d]  The Roman lituus is supposed by antiquarians to have been adopted from barbarous nations, the serpentine form indicating the object of their worship.  The serpent was held sacred among the Druids of Britain.

[110a]  “Archæological Journal,” No. VII., Sept., 1845, p. 253.  The dimensions of the chest were 16 inches square by 8½ inches high; the interior 12 inches square.  The height of the urn was 7 inches; its diameter at the widest part, 7 inches; diameter of mouth, 4 inches.

[110b]  At the restoration of the Parish Church in 1864, in making some alterations in the floor of the chancel, a lead coffin was found below, said to have been that of Lady Jane Dymoke.  It was temporarily removed during the operations, but orders were given that it should be re-interred.  Before, however, these instructions could be carried out, it mysteriously disappeared, and doubtless found its way to the melting-pot.

[111]  “Proc. Soc. Antiq.” 1849, 1st series, 57.  The finding of the Horncastle coffins is described in “The Reliquary and Illustrated Archæologist,” April, 1897.

[112a]  In Norwich one of the principal thoroughfares is named “Rampant Horse Street.”  To this same superstition also we owe the huge figures of the white horse cut in the turf at Bratton Castle and at Oldbury Camp, both in Wiltshire.  Tacitus speaks of “immolati diis abscissum equi caput.”

[112b]  Quoted, “Surtees Society Publications,” vol. lxxvi.

[112c]  Weir’s “History of Horncastle,” p. 27.

[113]  “Provincial Words of Lincolnshire.”

[114a]  An old Lincolnshire term for a male elf is “Tom-tut,” which may be a corruption of Tom-cat.  A person in a rage is said to be “quite a Tom-tut,” or spitfire, like a cat spitting.  In connection with “shag,” we may add that there is a sea bird frequenting some of our coasts called a “Black-shag.”  Another explanation of Tab-shag, which has been suggested is that “Tab” is another word for turf sods, and sods used to be cut on the moor for fuel.

[114b]  “Facts and Remarks relative to the Witham, &c.” by W. Chapman, p. 18.  A large anchor was also dug up at a considerable depth, indicating that large vessels also ascended the river to Lincoln.

[115a]  Thompson’s “Boston,” p. 126.

[115b]  Letter from Sir Joseph Banks to the Editor of the “Journal of Science and Art,” No. ii., p. 224.

[116]  There was a wood called Synker Wood, which extended from within 100 yards of Kirkby lane, westward to the Tattershall road skirting the boundary between the parishes of Kirkstead and Thornton, having at the east end of it Synker Wood House.  South of this wood, near the Tattershall road, was a lee, or strip of grass land: and south of that again, and opposite the present larger farm house, there was another smaller wood called the Synker Pool Wood.  Of this there is one solitary oak left still standing, about 20 yards from the road; and it was some yards eastward of this tree that the boat was found.

[118a]  Account of trees found under ground in Hatfield chase.  “Philosoph, Transactions,” No. 275, p. 980

[118b]  Richard of Cirencester (circa a.d. 1380) says of them, Coitani in tractu sylvis obsito (habit-antes).  Some writers, following Ptolemy, call them Coritani, others Coriceni, but the learned Dr. Pegge prefers Coitani, as a name in harmony with the “circumambient woods,” Coed being still Welsh for wood.

[118c]  “Flores Historiarum,” a.d. 1377.

[118d]  Brooke’s “Lincoln,” p. 14.

[119a]  Brooke, Ibid.  But the earliest record of a stone church in the British Isles is that built by St. Ninian, first Bishop of Scotland. a.d. 488, at Witherne, in Galloway.  Bede, “Eccles. Hist.,” book iii., ch. iv.

[119b]  “Egregii opperis,” Bede, “Eccles. Hist.,” book i. p. 32.

[119c]  Weir’s “Hist. Lincolnshire,” vol i., p. 32.

[120a]  A fine copy of Magna Charta, is still preserved among the Archives of the Cathedral.

[120b]  In the preamble to a Charter granted to the city (4 Charles I.) Lincoln is called “one of the chiefest seats of our kingdom of England for the staple and public market of wool-sellers and merchant strangers, &c.”  There came into the writer’s possession a few years ago a curious relic, consisting of a terra cotta cube, light red in colour, each of the six sides being 1¾ inches square, and having each a different, deeply-cut, pattern; crosses of different kinds, squares, or serpentine lines.  It was found in a private garden in Lincoln, and was pronounced to be a stamp for bales of wool.  I exhibited it before the Linc. Architectural Society, the Society of Antiquaries, &c.; and ultimately presented it to the British Museum.

[120c]  The number of monasteries closed by Henry VIII. was 645, containing some 20,000 religious persons.

[121a]  Anderson’s “Pocket Guide,” pp. 119–121.

[121b]  Anderson, p. 126.

[121c]  Letter written to Mr. Page, who was Mayor of Lincoln in that year.

[122]  “Brooke’s “History,” pp. 56, 56.

[125]  Brooke’s “History, pp. 55, 56.

[126a]  Demesne is an old Norman compound word.  “The Mesne” was “the Lord of the Manor” (conf. Fr. “mener” and “menager”—to command), and “de-mesne” was the land “of the lord.”  In this case, the “mesne” was originally the Baron Eudo, to whom the Conqueror gave the manors of Tattershall and Kirkstead, with certain appendages, of which Woodhall, or a large portion of it, would seem to have been one; for, when his son Brito endowed the Abbey of Kirkstead, he assigned to it two parts of the manor of Woodhall, and the advowson of the benefice.

[126b]  It was customary, where feasible, to thus connect the moat with running water, to avoid complete stagnation, and so to keep the water more healthy.

[127]  The writer has also an old map, undated, but belonging to a Dutch History of “Lincolnshire” or “Nicolshire,” probably published in the sixteenth century; also another old map, inscribed “Fodocus Hondius cælavit Anno Domini 1610,” as well as another by Christophorus Saxton, undated; in all of which Buckland is given instead of Woodhall.

[128a]  The Abbot of Bardney had a hunting establishment at Bardney Vaccary; and why not the powerful Abbot of Kirkstead also, who possessed the right of “free warren” over many thousands of acres; in the Wildmore Fen alone about 45,000 acres.

[128b]  That this supposition is correct would seem to be shewn by fact that this property—High-hall wood and land adjoining—still belongs to the Earls of Fortescue, who now own the manor of Tattershall, the estates having gone together since the days of Eudo, in the Conqueror’s time.  In the Award Map, one of the fields in Woodhall just outside the High-hall property, is named “Priests’ Moor,” probably as marking the limit of the Church (formerly the Abbey) estate, as distinguished from the land of the Baron.  The Abbots’ land in Woodhall was, at the Dissolution, given to the Bishops of Lincoln, and only enfranchised from them in the year 1868.  The writer has in his possession a copy of the deed, conveying, in the first year of Edward VI., the rectorial rights and appurtenances of Woodhall to Henry Holbeach, at that time Bishop of Lincoln, and his successors, “post mon. de Kirksted nuper dissolutum.”

[129]  The pistol was originally a German invention, so named because its calibre corresponded with the diameter of the old coin, “pistole.”  They were first used by German cavalry at the battle of Renty (1554), and contributed greatly to the defeat of the French.  After that they were introduced into the French army, and later into the English.  They were at first furnished with a matchlock, and fired by a match.  This was followed by a wheel-lock, wound up like a clock, and having a piece of iron pyrite, and later, a piece of flint, for producing ignition.  The wheel-lock was superseded by the trigger and the hammer, still with flint.  The percussion cap, invented by the Scotchman, Alexander Forbes, was introduced about 1820 (“Notes on Arms and Armour,” by C. Boutell).  The pistol found at High-hall is inscribed with the two French words “Shermand Brevete” (patentee).  The earliest pistol preserved in the United Service Museum is supposed to date from Charles I. (Haydn, “Dict. of Dates”), and it is known that, at that period, the French gunsmiths were much in advance of the English.

[131]  Series ii., 1600–1617, p. 30, No. 34, edited by Rev. A. R. Maddison, 1891.

[133]  It may occur to some to wonder for what purpose the Lord Clinton could need so many as “1,000 kiddes”; and as a probable answer we may say that, in those days, coal was not in universal use, as it is now.  Peat-sods, called in Lincolnshire “bages,” and wood, were the ordinary fuel.  Hence we find frequent mention of the right of “Turbary,” i.e., of cutting turf on certain lands, as a valuable privilege.  At such an extensive establishment as Tattershall Castle, then at least three times its present size, there would be no small number of persons needing fire-warmth.  The old writer, William of Worcester, (“Itinerarium,” p. 162), tells us that the Lord Treasurer Cromwell’s household consisted ordinarily of 100 persons, and that, when he rode to London, his retinue was commonly 120 horsemen (Weir’s “Hist.” vol. i. p. 304, ed. 1828).  The beautiful mantelpieces still remaining in the castle, embellished with his arms, and the proud motto, “Ne j’ droit?”—“Have I not right?” are famed throughout the kingdom; and on the spacious hearths beneath them the smouldering peat and blazing faggot would yield welcome warmth to guests and retainers reclining before them, wearied with the varied labours of the day: days, indeed, we may well believe, by no means monotonous, when it is remembered that, besides the sport of hunting and hawking, the Lord Clinton’s followers were not uncommonly engaged in predatory strife (of which I shall presently give instances) with neighbours hardly less powerful than himself.  By way of adding note to note, I may here say that, among the poor, cheaper kinds of fuel were in use than the peat and faggot.  Cow-dung was dried in brick-shaped blocks, which were called “dythes”; or sheep-dung into “brocks,” and stacked like peat for burning.  I have spoken with old people, in the marsh, who remember both these being in common use.

[134]  There is a prevalent tendency to pronounce, in a general and uncritical fashion, many things to be “Roman” which are only ancient and of indefinite date; an easy way of getting out of a difficulty.  Possibly we may trace to this source the origin of the Lincolnshire expression, descriptive of anything or anybody out of the ordinary, that it is, or he is, or she is, “a rum un.”

[137]  I may, perhaps, here explain that “non-jurors” were those persons who considered that James II. was unjustly deposed, and who refused to swear allegiance to William III. and his successors.  Non-jurors were subjected to double taxation, and obliged to register their estates (1723); and from the first were excluded from any public office.  I may also here state that the Sir Richard Morrison who is named in this epitaph was a man of great learning, and employed by Henry VIII. and Edward VI. in several embassies to the greatest princes in Europe (Camden’s “Britannia,” p. 302).  He was also appointed “President of Mounster in Ireland.”  He had a brother, Fynes Morrison, who was fellow of Peterhouse, Cambridge, who obtained from his college permission to travel, and spent eight years in foreign parts.  On his return he went to Ireland and became secretary to Sir Charles Blount, the Lord Lieutenant.  There he wrote an account, in Latin, of his “Travels through the twelve dominions of Germany, Bohemia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, England, Scotland and Ireland.”  These he afterwards translated into English, but they were not published till three years after his death, which occurred in 1614.  His works are a treasury of old-time information, and he is named in the second volume of “Magna Britannia” among the learned men whom our county has produced.

[138]  It is a coincidence which seems to merit a note, that on the very day on which these lines were penned it was the writer’s duty to unite in the bonds of wedlock a young woman whose mother’s maiden-name was Fynes, to her cousin, Charles Fynes: their common grandfather, Charles Pelham Fynes, a fine sample of the old English yeoman, having been, as well as two of his sons, the tenant of land held under the writer, and under his father before him, during many years.

[139]  This font which is old Norman, plain, but massive, was, some years ago, taken away from its position at Poolham, and, by way of rescuing it from destruction, was placed as an ornamental relic in the garden of Whispington Vicarage, by the late Rev. C. P. Terrot who was, in his day, one of our greatest antiquaries.  When the writer restored Woodhall Church, in 1893, the font in that church being of no architectural value, he obtained the gift of this ancient font and restored it to its original religious purpose, where it now stands, supported by four handsome columns of serpentine, the gift of the Rev. J. A. Penny, the present Vicar of Whispington.  The gravestone here referred to was taken away some years ago, and now forms the sill of a cottage doorway in Stixwould.

[142a]  He sold Tetford to George Anton, Esq., through whose daughter Elizabeth, married to Sir Edward Hussey, that property passed to the Hussey family, the head of which was Lord Hussey of Sleaford, who, for his treachery at the time of the Lincolnshire Rebellion, was attainted and beheaded by Henry VIII., as were also the Abbots of Kirkstead and Barlings, and many more.  He sold Somersby to George Littlebury (to whom there is a memorial tablet in the church), a younger son of Thomas Littlebury of Stainsby.  These Littleburys, again, Sir John of Stainsby, with Humphrey of Hagworthingham, and Robert his brother, were all mixed up with the Lincolnshire Rising; so, also, was their relative, Andrew Gedney, “lord of Oxcombe and of Bag Enderby” (of whom, and his wife Dorothy, there is a mural monument in the church), who married a daughter of Sir William Skipwith of South Ormsby; so, also, were the Dightons, Robert of Stourton and Thomas of Waddingworth, all in this neighbourhood; so, also, was William Dalyson, of a very old family (D’Alencon) of Laughton; with scores more: John Savile of Poolham, Vincent Welby of Halstead Hall, Stixwould; several Dymokes, Heneages, Massingberds, Tyrwhitts, &c., &c.  But these are mentioned here because the Littleburys, the Gedneys, the Dightons and the Dalysons, were connected, in one way or another, with the family, on one side, of the present writer.  He may further add here, in connection with the Saviles, that when the first Napoleon was expected to invade England, a Company of Volunteer Grenadiers was raised in the loyal town of Pontefract, of which a Savile, Lord Mexborough, was Colonel Commandant, and the writer’s grandfather, George Pyemont, of Tanshelf House, of Methley and Rothwell, was Major.  The Major’s sword hangs on the dining-room wall at Langton Rectory.

[142b]  Thoroton’s “Hist. of Notts.,” vol. iii., p. 360.

[142c]  “Collin’s Peer.,” vol. i., p. 207.  This Denzil Hollis, or Holles, is mentioned in the list, given at the “Spittle Sessions,” March 1, 1586–7, of those gentry who supplied “launces and light hors,” as furnishing ij. horse, being “captaine”; John Savile of Poolham furnishing “ij. launces and ij. horse.”

[142d]  “Illustrations of English History.”

[143a]  “Lansdown MSS.” 27, Art. 41.

[143b]  This would be the present Halstead wood, on the western side of Stobourne; the ditch, or sto-bourne, running between the two is the bourne or boundry of the two parishes, Woodhall and Stixwould (or Halstead), where the Welbys lived at that time.  The first syllable of Sto-bourne would be “stow” or “stoc” a “stake” or post, marking the boundary; oftener used as a suffix than a prefix, as in Hawkstow, Chepstow, Woodstock, &c.

[143c]  Thomas Metham of Metham.  The chief seat of the Methams was Bullington Priory.  A George Metham was executor, with Andrew Gedney, to Sir William Skipwith’s will proved 31st March, 1587.  Metham’s letter, quoted above, is given in the “Lansdown MSS.” 27, Art. 32.

[144]  “Lansdown MSS.” 27, Art. 41.

[145]  These details are given in a Paper on “The feuds of Old Lincolnshire Families,” by Lord Monson (“Proceedings of Archæol. Institute, Lincoln,” 1848).

[146]  There is a common tendency to give a far-fetched origin to ancient structures and things, to make them more remarkable; but the skill and economy of the old builders often lay in utilising and making the most of material at hand.  The bricks of Tattershall Castle have been said to be Dutch, and brought up the Witham from the “Low Countries” in exchange for other commodities; but a geologist assures me that both the bricks and the mortar at Tattershall, when examined, shew a native origin; and, so, doubtless, the bricks of Halstead are “born of the soil” of the locality.

[149a]  To show that I am not here speaking “without book,” I may cite the following:—Some years ago a bundle of papers were found among the Archives at Lincoln, stitched together, and much damaged by time.  They proved to be “Letters of indulgence,” issued by Bishop Dalderby of Lincoln, in which he instructed the Deans to enjoin the clergy throughout their deaneries to make it known, on Sundays and other festivals, that money was needed to complete the central tower of the Cathedral, and that indulgences and other privileges would be granted (indulgencias multiplices, et alia Suffragia) to any who should contribute to this object (qui ad constructionem campanilis contulerint subsidia.)  This mandate was dated Stowe-park vii.  1d.  Marcii a.d. mcccvi.  Among these papers was found a letter of indulgence from John, Bishop of Carlisle, dated Horncastle, May 12, 1305 (that Prelate then having a palace at Horncastle, on what are now the premises of Mr. Lunn, grocer), and a similar document from Walter, Archbishop of Canterbury, dated Lincoln, Oct. 11, 1314; shewing that the practice was a universal one.  The Indulgences were, in each case, for forty days.  We may look with admiration at our Cathedral, “fabrica tam nobilis, et honorifica toti regno,” as the Bishop calls it; but surely it takes not a little gilt from the gingerbread, when we reflect that this grand edifice was not entirely the product of the piety of our forefathers, as we have too fondly supposed, but due largely to the episcopal sanction of what with all charity, can hardly be called a pious fraud; and that it was really paid for by “the wages of sin.”  The individuals were granted their forty days’ “fling” of iniquity, with the episcopal pledge of exemption from its penalty, provided they responded to the episcopal call—a system of “Do ut des,” based on a “superstitio damnabilis,”—Bishop Dalderby’s Memorandums, 101 b.  Quoted “Archit. Soc. Reports,” vol. iv., pt. ***., pp, 42, 43.  The author of a book recently (1904) published on “French Cathedrals,” says that many of them were “built in expiation of wrong deeds.”

[149b]  “Ayen-bite of Inwyt,” by Dan Michel (Early English Text Society), edited by R. Morris, Esq.

[151a]  This being in a fragile condition was recently removed to the wall of the east end by the late Vicar, and forms a rather fine reredos.

[151b]  The device on this stone was a cross, within a circle.  On the four arms of the cross were the capital letters LX—DI—ST—VRA, and in the centre the letter E.  Taking this letter as common to all four arms, we get Lex., Dei, Est, Vera; the law of God is true.  A similar device is graven on one side of the font in Dunsby church, near Bourne.

[152a]  “Itner. Cur.,” vol. i., p. 88.

[152b]  “Monast.,” vol. i., p. 486.

[152c]  “Stikeswalde Prior.  Monial Cistert.  Collectanea,” vol. i., p. 92.

[152d]  The Rev. Thos. Cox, in his “Lincolnshire,” calls it a Gilbertine Priory, and Dugdale, in a second notice of it (vol. ii., 809), also places it among the Gilbertines.  Further, Dr. Oliver, on what authority he does not state, says that the nuns were habited in a white tunic, with black scapulary (bands across the back and shoulders), and girdle, with a capacious hood, called a culla; whereas Dugdale has an engraving of a nun, in black cloak, under skirt, and culla.  Probably they wore different attire on different occasions.

[153a]  Leland, vol. i., p. 92.

[153b]  Dugdale, vol. i., 486 ii., 809.

[153c]  Within quite recent times a handsome satin pulpit cloth, embroidered with rich emblematical devices, was still in use in Scopwick church, some 6 miles from Woodhall.

[154a]  Candlemas was one of the chief festivals, of which we now only retain the name; but in those days every family contributed its quota, or “shot for wax.”—Oliver, p. 65, note 4.

[154b]  Oliver, p. 67, note 8.

[154c]  It is still on record that Queen Elizabeth, an ardent sportswoman, shot her four bucks before breakfast.

[154d]  “Placit. de quo Warrento,” 22 Ed. I.

[154e]  Matthew of Westminster, “Flores Historiarum,” p. 313.

[154f]  “Rot. Hund.,” p. 317.

[154g]  “Rot. Can. Reg.,” 6 Rich I.

[154h]  Leland, “Coll.,” vol. i.. 92.

[155a]  The buildings of the Priory must have been on a large scale, as they covered several acres, and of great architectural beauty.  Not one stone of them now remains upon another, but, as an ornament, outside the front door of a house in Horncastle, there stands a large “boss,” formerly in the Priory roof, from which branch off six concentric arches.  It is about 2ft. in diameter, and most exquisitely carved with elaborate foliage.  The writer has a photograph of it.

[155b]  The Rev. James Alpass Penny, now Vicar of Wispington.

[156]  Bedæ Martyrology, D. Kalend, Nov.

[157]  Commem. of All Souls.  “Golden Legend,” fol. 200.

[158]  Maddison’s “Lincolnshire Wills,” Series I., p. 32, No. 84.

[159]  This collar disappeared about the year 1887, but has since been recovered.

[160]  “The Story of Two Noble Lives.”  Memorials of Charlotte, Countess Canning, and Louisa, Marchioness of Waterford, pp. 93, 95, 96.

[161a]  It is said that Thistlewood’s last words before mounting the scaffold, addressed to one executed with him, were “Courage, brother, we shall soon learn the great secret.”

[161b]  “The Story of Two Noble Lives,” p. 187.

[161c]  Compare “Bucks.,” Buckinghamshire, Buckland, Buckhurst.  Taylor’s “Woods and Places,” p, 321.  Beechnuts, it should be remembered, were the chief food of the herds of swine, very numerous in olden times.

[162]  A carucate is the extent cultivated by one plough in one year and a day (120 acres).  “Villeins” were the lower class of labourers, living in the village; “bordars” a better class, living in cottages attached to the Manor House, and enjoying certain privileges.  “Soc-men” were tenants of the lord, holding their tenures by rent or “service” of various kinds; i.e., freemen.

[165]  I am indebted for these particulars to an account given by the Rev. J. A. Penny in “Lincs. N. & Q.,” vol. iii., pp, 97–201.

[166a]  Among the questions asked at Monastic Visitations were, whether the monks were guilty of superstition, apostacy, treason or thieves, or coiners.—MSS., Cott. Cleop. ii., 59.  Henry, Prior of Tupholme, was said to be “very ingenious in making false money.”—Monas. Anglic., ii., p. 269.  Thompson’s “Boston,” Append., p. 61.

[166b]  Horn was much used for drinking vessels, spoons, hunting horns, the heads of walking sticks, etc.; and, by statutes of Edw. II. and IV., a Horner’s Guild was founded and protected by Charter.  Thus the Priory might well ply a lucrative, if illicit, trade.

[168a]  “Monasticon,” vol. i., 142.

[168b]  “Itin.,” vol. vi, p. 214.

[169a]  Dugdale’s “Mon.,” vol. ii., 848.

[169b]  Quoted in Oliver’s “Religious Houses on the Witham,” p. 87, note 21, ed. 1846.  The Venerable Bede relates that while Oswald’s body remained outside the Abbey through a night, awaiting burial, protected by a tent, a pillar of light was seen reaching up from the waggon to heaven.  The water in which his remains were washed was poured on the ground in a corner of the sacred place, and the soil which received it had the power to expel devils.—“Hist.” vol. iii., c. xi.

[171]  Among the monks of Bardney was one known as Richardus de Bardney, whose chronicles are preserved to this day (Anglia Sacra, II., 326).  Among other curious items given by him is one recording the miraculous birth of Bishop Grossetete, so named from his great head.  It reads thus, in something better than monkish Latin:—

Impregnata parens patitur per somnia multum,
   Quod nihil in ventre sit, nisi grande caput;
Et tam grande caput, et tanto robore forte,
   Quod puer ex utero fultus abit baculo.

Which may be done thus into English:—

A mother, great with coming child,
   Much suffers in her dreams,
That naught beyond a monster head
   Her inward burden seems.
A head so huge, yet with such might
   Endowed, that at his birth,
Supported on a wooden staff
   The infant issues forth.

[173]  The account of this incident is also given in “Gilda Aurifabrorum,” by Chaffers, 66.  King Charles seems to have made himself merry over his cups, with others beside the Lord Mayor.  It is recorded that dining with Chief Justice Sir George Jeffreys, the sovereign found his lordship’s wine so good that he “drank to him seven times.”—Verny, “Memoirs,” vol. iv., p. 234

[175]  Early in this chapter.

[176]  “Religious Houses on the Witham,” Appendix, p. 167, note 46.

[178]  Bull-baiting was in vogue at Stamford in this county as early as the reign of King John, 1209, and continued till 1839.

A bill against the sport was introduced into the House of Commons, May 24th, 1802, but was rejected, mainly through the influence of Mr. Wyndham, who used some curious arguments in favour of the sport.  It has since been made illegal, through the instrumentality of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, established 1824.  At one time many towns, and even villages, practised the sport.  Strutt, “Sports” (p. 277), says many of the rings “remain at the present time” (1780.)

[179]  Liberty to hold an annual fair, two days before the Eve of St. Barnabas, and to continue eight days, was granted by Henry III. by charter, to Ralph de Rhodes, Lord of the Manor.  This is the present June Fair.  A. second charter, granted by the same king, empowered the Lord of the Manor to hold an annual fair, to commence on the Eve of the Feast of St. Lawrence, and to continue seven days.  This is the great August Fair, once perhaps the largest in the world, though now greatly reduced.  Our third, or October, Fair was removed to Horncastle from Market Stainton, where it was a Statute Fair, in 1768.

[180]  The institution of “Bough-houses” at fairs was not confined to Horncastle.  By Act of Parliament (35 George III., c. 113, s. 17) an exception was made to the general rule of a license being required for the sale of beer, that at fair-time any one hanging a bough at their door, and thus constituting the house a “booth,” might sell beer without a license.  It prevailed at Pershore, with the sanction of the magistrates, as late as 1863; also at Bridgewater, Church Staunton, and Newton Poppleford (“Notes and Queries,” 3rd series, vol. iv., pp. 141 and 258).  Hence we find at Carmarthen, the principal hotel named “The Ivy Bush”; and at Carlisle, in English Street, there is a coaching inn called “The Bush.”  (“On the track of the Mail Coach,” by J. E. Baines, p. 226).  There is also a “Bush Hotel” at Farnham.  In out-of-the-way parts of Germany, as in the Upper Eisel District, at the village feast called “Kirmess” a bough is hung out at a house door to shew that refreshment may be obtained there.  (“Field, Forest, and Fell,” by J. A. Owen, p. 74).  Of the existence of similar houses at an early period in England, we have evidence in Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales.”  There were ale-houses on the country road-sides, marked by a pole projecting over the door; and as the pilgrims rode along, the Pardoner would not begin his tale till he had stopped to refresh himself,

“But first, quod he, her, at thys ale-stake,
I will both drynke, and biten at a cake.”

Jusseraud, in his “Wayfaring life of 14th century,” gives a sketch of such a Bow-house from a XIV. century illuminated MS.

[181]  This peculiar and ready mode of dissolving the bond of wedlock was not uncommon in former times; but I have a note of a similar transaction occurring in or near Scarborough in a quite recent year; and in 1898 (Nov. 18) a case came before Mr. Justice Kekewich, in the Chancery Court, when it was found that one of the parties concerned, before leaving this country for Australia, had sold his wife for £250.

[183]  Abbey and Overton, “Church of England in the 18th Century,” quoted “Church Folklore,” by J. E. Vaux, p. 2.

[184]  “Literæ Laureatæ”; or, the Poems of John Brown, the Horncastle Laureate.  Edited by J. Conway Walter.

[188a]  Other Roman mazes have been found in Lincolnshire at Alkborough, as well as at Louth and Appleby; at Wing, in Rutlandshire; at Sneinton and Clifton, in Notts.; at Hilton, in Hunts.; and many other places.  The one at Hilton is also called “Julian’s Bower.”  Views of the plans of some are given in the Architectural Society’s Journal (Yorkshire), vol. iv., pp. 251–268.  I shall go into this subject again further on, in dealing with “Troy wood,” at Coningsby.

[188b]  “Architect. Soc. Journ,” vol. iv., p. 200.

[188c]  Stukeley, “Itin. Curios.” p. 91.

[188d]  At Helston, in Cornwall, on May 8th, a procession of young persons marches through the town, decked with flowers; and the day is called “Flurry-day,” doubtless a corruption of the Roman “Floralia.”

[188e]  “The Vikings of Western Christendom,” by C. F. Keary, p. 52.

[188f]  “History of Horncastle,” p. 27.

[188g]  “Collectanea,” vol. ii, p. 509.

[190]  In the “Memoirs of the Verney Family,” Vol. i., it is stated that the King’s army were raw levies, pressed by force at short notice, ill fed and ill clothed.  The Verneys’ relative, Dr. Denton, present with the forces, writes, “Our men are very rawe, our armes, of all sorts, naught, our vittle scarce, and provision for horses worse” (p. 315).  Sir Jacob Astley writes, his recruits “have neither colours nor halberts”; and he has to “receive all the arch knaves of the kingdom, who beat their officers and break open prisons.”  Edmund Verney writes, “We have 6 weeks’ pay due, and unless there be some speedy payment, you may expect to hear that our souldyers are in a mutiny; they are notable sheep stealers already.”  Many had only rude pykes and lances; few who had a musket had a sword as well.  Pistols and matchlocks were scarce.  Old armour, which had hung in churches and manor houses, was used over again (pp. 109–116).

[192a]  Walker’s “Sufferings of the Clergy,” pt. ii, pp. 252, 253.

[192b]  Chancery Inquis., p. mort, 8 Ric. II, No. 99.

[193c]  Some of these fragments were taken by Mr. Stanhope to Revesby Abbey.  Two of them stand in the writer’s garden, at Langton Rectory.

[193]  Cl. Rot., 13 Hen III., given in “Lincs. N. & Q.,” vol. i, p. 49.  From a very early period churches and churchyards were regarded as so sacred that a criminal, having reached one of these, like the Biblical cities of refuge, could not be disturbed.  On the north door of Durham Cathedral there is a ponderous bronze knocker-ring, to which the criminal, clinging, was safe.  There is another at Hexham, and at St. Gregory’s, Norwich.  At Westminster, Worcester, Croyland, Tintern, and many other places, there was the same privilege.  In Beverley Minster there is a remarkable stone called the “Frith-stool,” because it “freeth” the criminal from pursuit.  It is recorded that in 1325 ten men escaped from Newgate, four of them to the Church of St. Sepulchre, and one to St. Bride’s.  Nicholas de Porter joined in dragging a man from Sanctuary, who was afterwards executed.  But this act was itself so great an offence, that he only obtained pardon through the Papal Nuncio, on doing penance in his shirt and bare head and feet in the church porch, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in Whitsun week.  A result, however, of the abuse of Sanctuary was, that churches being so numerous over the country, criminals could always obtain a refuge, and the roads became infested with highwaymen.  Henry VIII. passed Acts curtailing the privilege, and it was finally abolished by James I., 1624—“New Quarterly Mag.,” Jan., 1880.  Et alibi.

[194a]  Collectanea, vol. ii., p. 300.

[194b]  Although these events happened more than 250 years ago, it does not require many links to connect that day with the present.  The writer was informed, at the time he was putting these records together, that a man named John Barber died in Horncastle, aged 95, in the year 1855 or 1856, whose grandfather remembered Oliver Cromwell sleeping in the above-named house, then a mud and stud structure, on the night before Winceby fight.  In the Register of West Barkwith is recorded the burial of Nicholas Vickers in 1719, who guided Cromwell over Market Rasen Moor after the battle.  Cromwell may well, therefore, have returned to the same house at Horncastle before proceeding northward by Market Rasen.

[196a]  “Monasticon,” p. 45.

[196b]  “History of the House of Marmion,” p. 18.

[197a]  Berewick is a hamlet or minor manor attached to a larger.  The word strictly means cornland (bere, or barley).  This Dispenser, as his name (Latin Dispensator) implies, was steward to the Conqueror.  His descendants were the Despensers, Earls of Gloucester.  He was brother to the Earl Montgomery.  Being a powerful man, he forcibly seized the lordship of Elmley from the monks of Worcester.  At the time of Domesday he held 15 manors in Lincolnshire, seventeen in Leicester, four in Warwickshire, &c.

[197b]  Maddison’s “Wills,” series i., p. 360, No. 96.

[198]  In a note on the Will, Mr. Maddison says, “The testator was the second son of Robert Dighton (of Sturton), by his wife, Joyce St. Paul (a lady of another very old and well-connected county family).”

[199a]  Land Revenue Records, bundle 1392, file 79, Pub. Rec. Off.

[199b]  North’s “Church Bells of Lincolnshire,” p. 497, ed. 1882.

[200a]  There are still Willoughbys in the neighbourhood, and one living in Langton.

[200b]  There are, however, several modern spires since this saying came into vogue, two—at Horsington and Wispington—being within sight from Woodhall, and a third at Sausthorpe near Spilsby, a very fine one, designed by Mr. Stephen Lewin, who was the architect of St. Andrew’s Church, Woodhall Spa.

[201]  Gov. Geol. Survey, “Country round Lincoln,” p. 205.

[204]  He was supposed to have been asleep in the train, and hearing the name of the station called out, he aroused himself too slowly, and stepped out of the carriage when the train had passed 80 yards or more beyond the platform.  He was discovered an hour or more afterwards by a railway servant, who walked down the line.  He was conveyed to his residence at Horncastle, but never recovered the sense of feeling below his neck.  The present writer frequently read to him in his illness.  After some weeks he regained a slight power of movement in his feet, which gave hopes of recovery; but soon after this, his attendant, on visiting him, found him dead in his bed.

[205a]  Blomfield, “Hist. of Norfolk,” vol. iii., p. 187.

[205b]  Dugdale’s “Baronage,” vol. i., p. 439.

[208a]  This list was published by T. C. Noble.

[208b]  “Architect. Soc. Journ.,” vol. xxxiii, pt. i, pp. 122 and 132.

[208c]  Locally pronounced “Screelsby,” and even on one of the family monuments in the church we find, “the Honourable Charles Dymoke, Esquire, of Scrielsby,” died 17 January, 1702.

[209a]  Weir’s “History,” p. 63.

[209b]  This is referred to in the old book, “Court Hand Restored,” by Andrew Wright of the Inner Temple (1773) p. 48. where, among a list of ‘canting’ titles of different families, we find a note, “de umbrosa quercu, Dimoak.”  This ancient family have performed the office of Champion to the Kings of England ever since the coronation of Richard II., as holding the manor of Scrivelsby hereditarily, from the Marmyons of Lincolnshire, by Grand Sergeantry, so adjudged, M. 1. Henry VIth.  The umbrosa quercus, or shadowy oak, represented a play upon the two syllables dim-oak.  The term ‘Rebus’ is from the Latin rebus, ‘by things,’ because it is a name-device, the representation of a name by objects.  On this principle the crest of Francis Bacon, Lord Verulam, was a boar.  The boar is also found in the arms of Swinburne, Swinton, Swinney, &c.  An old poem says,

Whilst Bacon was but bacon, had he fearde,
He long ere this had proved but larde;
But he, instead of larde, must be a lord,
And so grew leane, and was not fit for boarde.

And, again, we find,

There needed not to blazon forth the Swinton,
His ancient burgonet the boar; &c.

“Cambridge Portfolio,” vol. i., pp. 233, 234.

This may be a convenient place to discuss the origin of the name Dymock.  Walford (“Tales of Great Families”) says the name is Welsh, being a contraction of Daimadoc, which means David Madoc.  He was a descendant of Owen Tudor, Lord of Hereford and Whittington.  This chief had three sons; the second married a daughter of the Prince of North Wales, half a century before the Conquest, and was ancestor of David ap Madoc; Dai-Madoc, in course of time, shrinking into Daimoc, or Dymoke.  Burke says that the John Dymoke who married Margaret de Ludlow, granddaughter of Philip de Marmion, was a knight of ancient Gloucestershire ancestry, and there is a village of Dymock, near Gloucester.  A Welsh origin is likely, as there were Dymokes of Pentre in Wales; the Lady Margaret de Ludlow, who married Sir John Dymoke of Scrivelsby, took her title from Ludlow in the adjoining county of Salop.  And another Welsh origin of the name has been suggested.  “Ty,” pronounced “Dy” in Welsh, means “house”; “moch” means “swine”; and so Dymoke would mean Swinehouse, after the fashion of Swynburne, Swinhop, Swineshead; all old names.  The motto of the Dymokes, adopted at a later date, Pro Rege Dimico, “I fight for the King,” is again a case, though most appropriate, of a “canting” motto.

[211]  I am indebted, for these details, to that very interesting work, Walford’s “Tales of Great Families.”

[212a]  “Words of Wellington,” by Sir William Fraser, Bart., pp. 41–44.  The “Gentleman’s Magazine” for 1821 contains a picture of Sir H. Dymoke, riding on his white charger into Westminster Hall, supported on either side by the Duke of Wellington and Marquis of Anglesey, on horseback; and two Heralds, with tabards and plumes, on foot.

[212b]  (a) sword, (b) girdle, (c) scabbard, (d) partisans, i.e. halberts, (e) gilt, (f) pole-axe, an ancient weapon, having a handle, with an iron head, on the one side forming an axe, and the other side a hammer; this, in the hands of a strong man was a fatal instrument of destruction; (g) the chasing staff was a gilt “wand of office” carried before the Champion, to clear the way, (h) a pair of gilt spurs.

[215]  Had we continued on the road skirting the Park and passing within 150 yards of Scrivelsby church, we should have presently reached the village of Moorby, with a modern brick church, but having a remarkable old font, and part of an uncommon “minstril column;” thence, turning westward, we might have passed through Wood Enderby, with modern church of sandstone; and so have reached Haltham, our next stage; but this route must be considered as rather beyond a walk or drive from Woodhall Spa, although it would repay the energetic visitor to take it.

[216]  This description is mainly taken from an account given by the Rev. J. A. Penny in “Linc. N. & Q.” vol. iv., pp. 161–164.

[217]  “Lincs. N. & Q.,” vol. iii., pp. 245, 246.  It may be remarked that this kind of tenure is not so uncommon as has been supposed.  In an old undated Deed, but of the time of Richard I., William, Clerk of Hameringham, a parish within four miles of Haltham, makes a grant of land to the monks of Revesby on condition of their providing him and his heirs annually at Michaelmas a pair of spurs.  Blount (“Tenures of Land and Customs of Manors,” pp. 115, 237) mentions similar tenures in Notts. and Kent (“Lincs. N. A Q.,” vol. i., p. 256).  There is a peculiarity about these two “spur” tenures in our neighbourhood worthy of note.  An old chronicler says that, when the freebooter’s larder got low, his wife had only to put a pair of spurs in his platter, as a hint that he must issue forth to replenish it.  We can, without any great stretch of imagination, picture to ourselves the knight, Ralph de Rhodes, making an inroad on a neighbour’s soil, and therefore the annual gift of spurs would be acceptable, for himself or his men.  But to the country parson we can hardly deem such a gift appropriate.  He could scarcely be a “clerk of St. Nicholas,” as well as clerk of his benefice; and even were he always to make the round of his parish on horseback, his spurs would hardly need yearly renewal.

[218]  The Saxon is Cyning; the Danish Koning, and Konge; English King.  In not a few cases history records the occasion when the king’s presence gave the name; as at Kingston-on-Thames, where there is a stone, still carefully preserved, on which the Saxon kings sat to be crowned.  King’s-gate, in the Isle of Thanet, is the spot where Charles II. landed at the Restoration.  The manor of Hull (Kingston-on-Hull) was purchased by Edward I., and King’s Lynn, Lyme Regis, Conington, Cunningham, Coney-garth, Coningsby, all tell the same tale.  They perpetuate their respect for Royalty in the very name they took.—Taylor, “Words and Places,” pp. 201, 203.

[219a]  Lord Coningsby had two sons, Humphrey and Ferdinand, whose baptisms are entered in the register of Bodisham, or Bodenham, Herefordshire, with dates 16 Feb., 1681–2, and 6 May, 1683.—“Lincs. N. & Q.,” vol. iii, p. 24.

[219b]  “Sac” means the power to hear causes, levy fines, &c.; “soc” is the district over which he had this power.  “Mansion,” according to Bracton, is a dwelling-House consisting of one or more tenements.

[220a]  “Britannia,” p. 742.  His name, as “Terrius de Bevra,” (Bevere, or Bever-lee in Holderness), he holding the Seigniory of that country, appears among the “Milites Flandriæ” in the rolls of Ban and Arriere Ban, in the time of Philip Augustus.  To show that he was of a somewhat overbearing spirit, it is related of him, that the Conqueror, having bestowed upon him the lordship of Holderness, he was not content with that, but claimed all the land held by the church of St. John (now the Minster) at Beverley, with which it had been endowed by the King.

[220b]  “Linc. N. & Q.,” vol. ii., pp. 10 and 108.

[220c]  “Ibid.,” pp. 141, 142.

[220d]  “Ibid.,” p. 228.

[221a]  “Linc. N. & Q.,” vol. iii., pp. 245, 246.

[221b]  “Ibid.,” p. 150.  The above Burgavenny should be Abergavenny, in South Wales, but both forms were used.

[222]  A similar thoroughfare formerly existed through the tower of the old All Saints’ Church at Cambridge, and there is still one through the tower of the church at March.

[223]  In the church at Walton-on-Thames there is preserved in the vestry, a scold’s bridle: two flat steel bands, which go over the head, face, and round the nose, with a flat piece going into the mouth and fixing the tongue.  It locks at the back of the head.  It bears this inscription:—

Chester presents Walton with a bridle
To curb women’s tongues that be idle;

the said Chester being, it is said, a man who lost money through a talkative woman of Walton.  An engraving of a “brancks” is given in the volume of the Archæological Institute for 1848, p. 211.  It was exhibited, by Col. Jarvis of Doddington, at Lincoln, on the visit of the Institute to that city.

[228]  River names, as Taylor, in his “Words and Places” (p. 130), tells us, are almost invariably of Celtic, i.e. British, origin.  “Ban” means bright, or clear, and is found not only in our Bain, but in several other rivers.  There is a Bain in Hertfordshire, a Ben in Co. Mayo, Bandon in Co. Cork, Bann in Co. Wexford, Bana Co. Down, Bannon (or Ban-avon) in Pembrokeshire, Banney in Yorkshire, &c.

[229a]  “Britannia,” pp. 470, 471.

[229b]  The name de Albini, corrupted into Daubeny survives, as a family name, and as a place-name in many localities.  In the writer’s own parish there is a field called “Daubney’s Walk,” and a small stream named “Daubney’s Beck.”

[229c]  The Patent Roll, 15 Henry III., m. 2, gives this: Pro Roberto de Tatteshale—Rex concessit Roberto de Tatteshale quod libere et sine impedimento unam domum de petra et calce firmari faciat apud manerium suum de Tatteshal.  In cujus &c, teste Rege, apud Hereford xxj die Maii.  Et mandatum est vicecomiti Linc. per literas clauses quod ipsam dictam domum firmare permittat sicut prædictum est; teste ut supra.

[230]  “Itin.,” p. 162.

[231a]  See “Proceedings of Essex Archæol. Society,” vol. iv.; and “Beauties of England,” vol. x., p. 285.

[231b]  “Beauties of England—Sussex,” vol. xiv., p. 205.

[231c]  A ground-plan of the castle and its precincts is given in a Selection of Papers of the “Lincolnshire Topographical Society,” 1841, 1812, printed by W. & B. Brooke, Lincoln; and a full description is given by the late Bishop Suffragan, E. Trollope, in the “Architectural Society’s Journal,” 1858, in a Paper on “The Use and Abuse of Red Bricks.”

[232]  Mr. H. Preston, F.G.S., of Grantham, examined these on the visit of the Linc. Naturalists’ Union to Tumby in the autumn of 1898, and gave this as his opinion.

[233]  Allen, in his “History of Lincolnshire,” states that these conical roofs remained in the thirties, but they were there at least ten years later, to the writer’s own knowledge.

[236]  At Revesby there is St. Sythe’s Lawn, where the Abbot of that monastery used to reside, and some of the carving from his residence is still preserved in the very handsome new church erected there by the late Right Honourable E. Stanhope.  In Mells church, Somerset, in the coloured glass of a window, St. Sitha is also represented with two keys in one hand and three loaves in the other.  She was slain by the Danes about a.d. 870.  (“Archæol. Journal,” No. 6, June, 1845).

[238]  Toll-bars are not always so successfully negotiated.  The writer, when at Cambridge, had three college acquaintances who, on one occasion—contra leges—attended Newmarket races.  Riding home in the dusk, they found the toll-bar closed, and charged it.  The first of them cleared it successfully; the second, rather a bulky man, rode at it, but the horse stopped short and he himself shot over, without it.  The third took the gate, but the horse and rider fell together, and he was carried into the bar-house insensible, to be presently found there, and taken home by the Proctor, who had been looking for them.  He, however, proved a friend in need and in deed, for he kept council, and did not divulge the incident.  A future clergyman, afterwards residing in this neighbourhood, attempted the same feat, but suffered for it ever afterwards.  A screw was left loose in his cranium, and he might sometimes be seen riding along the ditches by the roadside rather than on the road itself.  His horse, however, and he, as should always be the case, thoroughly understood each other, and did not “fall out,” or in.

[239a]  “Quarterly Review,” July, 1891, p. 127.

[239b]  A volume was published by the Lincolnshire Architectural Society, in 1846 (J. H. Parker, Oxford), which gives a History of the Architecture of the Abbey Chapel, now standing.  Dr. Oliver, also, in his “Religious Houses on the Witham,” gives a very interesting history of the Abbey.  Both these books are now scarce.

[240a]  MS. Vespasian E. xviii, in British Museum: quoted “Architect. Soc. Journ.,” 1895, p. 109.

[240b]  Harlevan MS., No. 4127.

[240c]  Quoted from the Fenman’s Vade Mecum.

[241a]  “Placitum de quo Warranto,” p. 401.

[241b]  Quoted Oliver’s “Religious Houses,” pp. 77, 78.

[241c]  “Hundred Rolls,” p. 317.

[241d]  “Ibid.,” p. 365.

[241e]  “Ibid.,” p. 299.

[241f]  “Placit de quo Warranto,” p. 404.

[241g]  “Hundred Rolls,” p. 317.

[241h]  For the years 1281 to 1301.

[241i]  Letter from Rev. R. W. Sibthorpe to Dr. Bloxham, “Life of Sibthorpe,” (1880), p. 138.

[242]  Stukeley, “Itin. Cur.,” p. 29.  The pageants of Corpus Christi day are described by Dugdale, and in the “Northumberland Household Book,” 1512.

[243a]  Acta Regia.  Quoted by Oliver, “Religious Houses,” p. 52, note 68.  The corruption which was gradually eating its way into the monastic life came, in some cases, to be felt by those who were admitted to their intimacy.  The author of a poem contemporary with Chaucer, in the 14th century, says,

I was a friere ful many a day,
Therefor the soth I wot;
But when I saw that their lyvinge
Accorded not to their prechynge,
Of I cast my friere clothynge,
And wyghtly went my way.

Quoted, Jusseraud’s “Way-faring Life of 14th Century.”

[243b]  Cottonian MS. “Cleopatra,” E.

[244a]  Cowper, “The Task,” 1. 206.

[244b]  “Quarterly Review,” July, 1891, p. 126.

[246]  Referring to these portions of screen, Mr. G. E. Jeans, author of “Murray’s Handbook to Lincolnshire,” says “Kirkstead Abbey, most valuable Early English screen, one of the earliest in England” (“Lincs. N. & Q.,” vol. ii., p. 91).  Also Dr. Mansel Sympson, in a Paper on “Lincolnshire Rood Screens,” read before the Architectural Society, June, 1890, goes into further detail.  He says, “It is composed of 13 bays.  Each bay consists of a lancet-headed trefoil, supported by octagonal pillars, with moulded capitals and bases . . . total height 2ft. 9in.  Some screen-work exists in Rochester Cathedral of exactly the same character.”  And the late Mr. Bloxam gave a drawing of a similar specimen in Thurcaston Church, Leicestershire.  That at Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, is not quite similar, and is 40 or 50 years later (1260); so that we may be proud of possessing, at Kirkstead, almost the oldest fragment of work, in this particular line, in the country.  (“Architect. Soc. Journ.,” 1890, pp. 198, 199).

[247]  See “Archæological Journal,” vol. xl., p. 296.

[249]  Vol. i., p. 286, 1886.

[250a]  Col. Richard Ellison, of Boultham, in a poem, entitled “Kirkstead; or, The Pleasures of Shooting,” printed by Painter, 342 Strand, London, 1837.

[250b]  The concluding words of Mr. Hartshorne’s Paper quoted above.

[251]  A photo of the writer in this attitude, in Alpine costume, hat and alpenstock in hand, and with the sweat of his brow still glistening from a mountain climb, has been exhibited at more than one lantern-illustrated lecture.

[254]  “Archæol. Journ.,” No. 7, Sept., 1845, p. 353; and Saunder’s “Hist. Linc.,” vol. ii., pp. 170, 171.

[255]  Sir Charles Anderson says “Tennyson’s ‘Northern Farmer,’ excepting his ‘yal’ for ‘ale,’ is a failure.”  (“Pocket Guide to Lincoln,” p. 17).

[256]  “Tennyson Land,” by J. Cumming Walters, note p. 79.  Less than a mile away there is a saline spring, in the adjoining parish of Salmonby, said to be similar in its properties to the Tunbridge Wells water, but stronger.  (Saunder’s “Hist. Linc.” vol. ii., p. 178).

[257]  One of these slabs has the inscription, “Orate pro anima Albini de Enderby qui fecit fieri istam ecclesiam cum campanile, qui obiit in Vigillia Sancti Matthie Apostoli, Anno MCCCCVII.”  The other has, in Norman-French, “Thomas Enderby, et Loues sa feme gysont yey dieux de lour aimees pour sa grace eyt mercy.”  A nearly similar inscription runs round the cross-legged figure of a knight on an incised slab in the church of St. Bride’s, Glamorganshire, “Iohan: Le; Botiler: git: ici: Deu: De: Sa: Alme: Ait: merci: Amen.”—“Archæolog. Journal,” No. viii., p. 383.

[259]  Harleyan MSS. No. 6829.  Saunder’s “Hist. Lincs.,” vol. ii., p. 173.

[260]  Col. Ellison of Boultham, author of the poem “Kirkstead; or, The Pleasures of Shooting,” Preface, Painter, 342 Strand, 1837.  A book now out of print.


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