Friday, 17 October 2014


Lincolnshire is a varied county on the North Sea coast with reclaimed fenland in the south, flat agricultural land in the centre and a stretch of wolds in the north. 
The history of The George Hotel, a fine old coaching inn at STAMFORD stretches back to medieval times and has been extended over the years into
adjoining religious buildings.
The famous 'gallows' sign which stretches across the road is said to have been a warning to highwaymen operating on the Great North Road.

Daniel Lambert was a regular customer at the George in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and his portrait can be seen in the entrance hall. 
Over the years his weight increased at an alarming level and
for no apparent reason.
He was only 39 years old when he died in 1809 and weighed some 52 stones. He was buried in the graveyard of St Martin’s church at Stamford
and the epitaph on his gravestone reads :
‘ In remembrance of that Prodigy of Nature, Daniel Lambert,
a native of Leicester,
who was possessed of an exalted and convivial mind
and in personal greatness had no competitor.
He measured 3ft round the leg, 9ft 4ins round the body and
weighed 52 stones 11 lbs.
He departed this life on 21st June 1809 aged 39 years.
As a testimony of Respect this stone is erected by his friends in Leicester.’

St Martin's Church

Lambert was the keeper of Leicester Prison which closed in 1805 after which he turned to breeding sporting dogs and regularly attended sporting events including horse racing and following the hunt.  Apparently he was very fond of a wager and often boasted that he could beat any fit man in a race, provided he had the right to choose the course. He always chose was a long narrow passage!  Because he was unemployable, Lambert took to exhibiting himself to earn a living. He finally took lodgings at Stamford where he eventually died.  His coffin was so big that part of a wall had to be removed to get it out of his lodging. He was buried in the nearby graveyard when it took some twenty men to lower the coffin into a huge grave.


An effigy of Daniel Lambert is depicted sitting at the side of one of the fences of the Burghley Horse Trials course.

There are several interesting churches in Stamford.
All Saints in the town centre has a curious 17th century sign on the inner wall beneath the belfry.

There is a charming memorial on the south aisle wall of St John The Baptist Church just a hundred yards away.  In coadstone, a form of terracotta, it depicts a female figure mourning over an urn, probably the mother of one John Booth who died in 1799 at the age of 7 years.
The incised inscription reads :
To Him a length of Days in mercy God denied
Who never gave his Parents pain but when he died.
Although there seems to be no explanation, the inscription  has been altered and originally began :

To Him a length of Days the cruel Fates denied.

 St John the Baptist Church.
 MARKET DEEPING to the east of Stamford is an ancient village on the edge of the fens.
This village lockup, situated on the corner of Eastgate and Church Street, was originally the market cross, erected when Deeping St James held regular markets, probably during the reign of Edward III in the 14th century and a focal point where crowds would gather and so it also became a popular place for the sale of poultry and produce, butter and cheese, hence the more familiar name of the butter cross.
In 1819, the market cross was converted for use as the village lock up because there was sufficient space within the base for its new use. Fully restored is now a Grade 11 listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

The fascinating little town of CROWLAND was once an island in the previously inhospitable Fens.   Prior to the drainage of the Fens, the main streets of the town were in fact waterways of the River Welland with the buildings
standing on various banks.  The ruined Abbey dates to the 12th century and the Abbey church is now used as the parish church.  

The unique ‘Triangular Bridge’ was built of Ancaster limestone between 1360 and 1390 and replaced a wooden construction.  It has three arches but one over arching structure, a 3 in 1 bridge built to facilitate the crossing of the waters of the divided River Welland.   As the river now completely by-passes the town, this strange bridge  stands on dry land in the town centre and is said to be the greatest curiosity in Britain, if not in Europe.


A lone stone figure which adorns the bridge is thought to have been
moved from the west front of the Abbey.



After perhaps visiting historic  Abbey, your quiet drink at The Abbey Hotel , may well be disturbed by the sound of someone dragging their feet across an upstairs room.   "That’ll be old Henry" the landlord will tell you.   Apparently Abbey regular, Henry Girdlestone, a local farmer in 1844, walked 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours to break some sort of record.  The story goes that he actually took 1,176 hours to walk 1,025 miles and a bit.  No wonder his ghost drags its feet!

The tiny fenland village of SURFLEET has an ancient parish church which lies alongside the River Glen.   It must have been very difficult to find a firm foundation for any building in this area. The spired tower of this church leans away from the body of the church – in fact it leans six feet out of true!    Apparently the tower settled at this angle soon after it was constructed in the middle ages and is quite safe!

The neighbouring church at Pinchbeck also has a leaning tower,
but not as severe.


Travellers on the Great North Road, now the A1, may have wondered about the unusual weathervane on the church tower at Great Ponton just south of Grantham.

It is in the shape of a ‘violin’.   In the 17th century the parishioners were so impressed by the talents of a local fiddler that they collected his fare to enable him to go to America to study the violin.  He made his fortune and in gratitude provided the wrought iron fiddle shaped vane for the church.

 GRANTHAM is probably best known as being the birthplace of former
Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
Apart from a chat about Grantham’s famous daughter, you can enjoy real honey for tea when you visit The  Beehive  Inn  in Castlegate, for it has a unique ‘living sign’  -  a beehive.  Since 1830, the beehive has hung in a tree outside the pub and the bees have produced an average of 30lbs of honey every year.  A sign on the pub reads :
'Stop traveller this wondrous sign to explore
and say when thou hast view’d it o’er and o’er.
Grantham now two rarities are thine,
 a lofty steeple and a living sign.’
The lofty steeple is that of St Wulfram's church, 272ft high,
at the end of the street.

 Whilst FOLKINGHAM is only a small village to the east of Grantham is was a place where court Quarter Sessions were held in the 19th century. This may explain why a 'House of Correction', a small prison, was built on the former castle site in the village. This Grade 11 listed building is now in the care of Landmark Trust and the former gatehouse is now a holiday home.


A ‘whalebone arch’ can be seen at the entrance to a private house drive in the nearby village of THREEKINGHAM.   Apparently it is a relic of the time when the local squire had business interests in the whaling industry in the 19th century.



The impressive St Boltoph’s church at BOSTON is one of the largest parish churches in England and its huge tower dominates the area.   The tower know famously as The Boston Stump is 272 feet high and can be seen from many miles away in this flat fenland countryside.   The lantern top was for many centuries a guide to travellers both on land and sea.   As well as the 365 steps up the tower, the church has 7 doors and 52 windows.

The Bull and Dog Inn in Southgate, SLEAFORD reminds us of the cruel ‘sport’ of Bull Baiting which was prevalent in former times.   A fine old plaque on the pub wall, dated 1689, depicts a bull being baited by a dog.   In Sleaford, the bull was tethered to a metal ring in the Market Place and would have been baited by a bulldog, one of the oldest breeds of British dog. The last reported baiting in this town was in 1807.    This activity was banned by law in 1849 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

On the east face of the fine 15th century tower of St Michael’s church at CONINGSBY, is a rare one handed clock.  This brightly coloured dial measures 161/2 feet in diameter, and because of its size it is still possible to tell the time with reasonable accuracy despite it having only the one hand.   The pendulum is so long that it swings only once every two seconds and the weights are
huge stone blocks.

The  Lea  Gate  Inn, an ancient hostelry at CONINGSBY in the Lincolnshire Fens, recalls a former tollgate here where it was once very important that travellers kept to the turnpike road in the days before the fens were drained.  An old iron bracket on the corner of the building was where a beacon light shone at night to guide those travellers.  
The Inn is  thought to be the last surviving guide house in the Fens.

The Open Gate Inn is an ancient hostelry on the A1028 at ULCEBY near Alford.  White gates hung on the façade tell us “ THE GATE HANGS WELL AND HINDERS NONE REFRESH AND PAY AND TRAVEL ON.”   and   “ CALL AT THE GATE TO TASTE THE TAP DRINK AND BE MERRY BUT KEEP OFF THE STRAP.”


Nigger was the faithful black Labrador dog who belonged to Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the leader of the immortal ‘ Dam Busters ‘.   The dog became Squadron mascot and was a regular sight around RAF Scampton where they were training for their historic raid.    On the day before the actual raid, Nigger ran out onto the road outside the station and was killed by a passing car.   Gibson arranged for the dog to be buried in a grave outside the squadron briefing rooms at midnight, whilst the Lancaster bombers were approaching their target.  The code word ‘ nigger ‘ was used to transmit a successful mission.
Nigger’s grave is still well preserved in its original position at RAF Scampton.

The Old Hall at Gainsborough in the north west of the county is one of the most important surviving medieval houses in the country and it has had a chequered history.   It was built in 1484 by Lord de Burgh and remained as a residence until the 18th century.    Since that time it has had an amazing variety of uses.   It was used as a church whilst the parish church was being rebuilt, and as a soup kitchen following the Napoleonic Wars.   It has also been used as a linen factory; as a corn exchange; as a mechanics institute; as a congregational church; as a theatre; as a public house; as a sale room; as a ballroom and as a Masonic Lodge; as well as shops and tenements.
Fortunately this most interesting building has survived and is now
in the care of English Heritage.



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