The Witham Staple covers the eight villages in our mainly rural area, with about 1400 homes in Witham St Hugh’s and about 1350 in the other seven villages.
There have been settlements along the banks of the River Witham for many centuries. ‘The name ‘Witham’ probably dates back to Celtic times. Place names give us important clues about the origins of our villages. Some date from Saxon/Old English times, some from the Danish Invasion and settlement in this area (late 9th century). Some local examples include:
-ham (village or estate) Saxon/Old English
-ton or -tun (farm or hamlet) Saxon/Old English
eg, Carlton, Haddington
-by (village or farmstead) is Danish/Old Norse and is found in many place names in Denmark.
-bourne (brook or stream) is Saxon/Old English
Some places include a name, presumably of someone of some significance at the time.
eg, Bassa (Bassingham), Headda (Haddington), Thórulfr (Thurlby)
- Aubourn, which appears in Domesday 1086 as ‘Aburne‘ means ‘stream where alder trees grow’.
- Bassingham includes the name of an individual, Bassa, so means Bassa’s village or estate
- Carlton le Moorland: Carlton is a common place name in the old Danelaw area of the Midlands and means ‘farmstead or estate of the freemen or ordinary folk’ suggesting that originally the people here enjoyed a measure of independence from feudal lords. In fact a version of the name was used by the Anglo-Saxons who were here long before the arrival of the Danes in this area of England. Carlton le Moorland appears in the 1086 Domesday Book as ‘Carletune’, and eventually takes the affix ‘le Moorland’ which simply means ‘in the moorland’.
- Haddington includes the name Headda, so means Headda’s homestead
- Norton Disney is listed as ‘Nortune‘ in the 1086 Domesday book. The affix Disney is Norman in origin, from D’isney or Disney (Isny in 1331) from the de Isney family who were originally from Issigny, a village you can still find in Normandy.
- Stapleford is a common place name meaning ‘a ford marked by a post’.
- Thurlby is pure Danish including the name Thórulfr, meaning Thórulfr’s farmstead.
- Witham St Hugh’s is a recent name, taken from the nearby River Witham and Bishop Hugh of Lincoln (St Hugh) c1135-1200. He was Bishop of Lincoln from 1186 to 1200, and was responsible for starting the rebuild and enlarging of the cathedral after it was badly damaged in an earthquake in 1185.
- River Witham : the name of the Witham is thought to be Celtic or earlier, that is, before the Anglo Saxons started arriving in the 5th century. It’s not clear what it means. (Wit’s estate?)
- Lincoln is a mix of Celtic and Roman, lindo (celtic- pool) and colonia (latin – colony)
There are many other suffixes in British place names, including -ly/-ley, Saxon/Old English (wood or clearing), -ac, Saxon/Old English (oak)and -borough/-burgh/-bury, Saxon/Old English (fortified)
(Sources include English Heritage, Helen Ash and Stan Underwood)
Domesday Book 1086:
Domesday Book Entries 1086
Aubourn: Aburne – owned by Robert de Tosny and Berenga from him. There is a church, a mill and a fishery with 1000 eels.
Bassingham: King’s land. Two mills*, a church
Carlton le Moorland: Carletune
Haddington: owned by Robert de Tosny and Warn from him. Baldwin the Fleming. A church (where?)
Norton Disney: Nortune
Thurlby: owned by Odo the Arblaster and Countess Judith
*Bassingham Domesday Mills: the most likely site for one was near a stream (shown on an 1893 map of walks). The other likely site is where today there is a weir opposite 5 Hallfield.
NB All mills were water mills at the time of Domesday since there were no windmills in England until the late 12th century.
Local Early Human History
Between 4,000-3,000 BC the first farming communities settled in what is now Lincolnshire.
Around 100BC there was an Iron Age settlement by the Brayford Pool known as ‘Lindon’.
Between 54 and 60 AD the Roman Army established a garrison at Lindon, latinising its name to ‘Lindum’.
In AD 77 Lincoln became one of four colonial centres for retired Roman soldiers in the Roman province of Britain.
By 500 AD the Romans had gone and Lincoln was part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Lindsey.
By 920 AD the invading Vikings had established Lincoln as one of the five principal ‘burghs’ of the Danelaw.
Between 1066 and 1346 49 monasteries were built in Lincolnshire.
In 1185 Lincoln was badly damaged by an earthquake.
Historical Items of Interest
St Michael’s Church, Bassingham, has memorabilia of HMS Bassingham, including ship’s bell, badge, photograph and history. Bassingham was one of 76 Inglesham (or Ham) class of inshore minesweepers, all chosen from villages ending in -ham. HMS Bassingham was built in 1951-2 and in service from 1953. Commander Oliver Wright took command from 1954-6, when Bassingham served as an inshore minesweeper of the 232nd minesweeping squadron. In 1956 she sailed to Gibralatar and Malta for Mediterranean operations leading to the joint Anglo-French Suez Canal action. She later transferred to the Royal East African Navy, based in Kenya for two years before returning to the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. She was later sold to a shipbuilding yard in Portsmouth where she remained for fourteen years, used for spare parts until being broken up in 1980.
Based on piece by Commander Oliver Wright, Royal Navy, written in 2004 for The Witham Staple.
Stirling Bomber EH977
George Marsh’s account of his eyewitness account of this wartime incident which he says was seared into his memory as a toddler, and gives an idea of what people in this part of Lincolnshire lived through day by day during the war years.
‘At 02.40 hours on the 5th November 1944, Stirling EH977 crashed at Wirelocks Farm, Bassingham Fen, killing all seven crew members. The bomber had taken off from RAF Swinderby on a training flight to the Wainfleet Bombing Range when it developed engine trouble. It turned back towards Swinderby, losing height and crashed into the Sand Syke Drain, bursting into flames. the crew consisted of a pilot, navigator, flight engineer, bomb aimer, wireless operator and two air gunners. One air gunner is buried in Thurlby Churchyard. I often ask myself if the aircraft had cleared the drain, would the crew have survived, as the adjacent field was a flat grass field. The answer is almost certainly not, as large flat fields in Lincolnshire had eighteen foot high posts erected across them some three years earlier to help counter any German invasion.
I can vividly remember seeing the fireball some 500 yards from my bedroom window. Two heavy farm horses in the nearby field were badly burnt, having been covered in aviation fuel. One was recovered in a short time, the other bolted and was not found until daybreak. One horse was put down; the other, after much care and attention, recovered and went back to work but was virtually uncontrollable when aircraft were about. The emergency services were at the scene almost on impact but could do nothing. The aircraft had a round the clock guard until the bodies were removed.’
George Marsh, written 2004 for The Witham Staple
Bassingham Wesleyan Schoolroom (later the Heritage Room)
The new schoolroom was built in 1855 at the rear of the Methodist Church. The main room had a raked floor and was heated by coke stoves. This school and the National School (opposite St Michael’s Church)were amalgamated in 1893. The Infant department used the schoolroom for some time, and school dinners were cooked there until the new school was built on Lincoln Road. The room was then used by several organisations such as Brownies, Cubs, Playgroup, and it was also used for Chapel events. In 1991 the schoolroom was leased to North Kesteven District Council on a fifteen year lease. The former kitchen was used as a craft room and for washing up. The floor of the main room was levelled in 1996 and divided in two, one part becoming an IT room. With the decrease in its use as an IT centre, the room was changed into a craft room and small kitchen, the existing craft room becoming the Witham Office serving the local Witham villages.
Helen Ash, written 2005 for The Witham Staple
Bassingham Arts Projects
The District Council instigated and supported several arts projects, including the bull seat on Stocks Hill, carved by Mark Folds. Arik Halfon trained a mosaics group who produced several including a large mosaic near the former Heritage room, depicting the once important local industry of growing and preparing osiers for basket making. The panel on the Bugle Horn wall shows the village parade that used to be part of the Sunday School Anniversary. the Millennium Banner of worked needlework panels was produced to show the various local activities.
Helen Ash, written 2005 for The Witham Staple
Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee July 1887
Bassingham: Three or four triumphal arches were erected and various maypoles, profusely decorated with evergreens and flowers, wer placed at different parts. The children were taken round the village in carriages and wagons kinly lent by the parishioners, singing all the whild to the accompaniment of an excellent band. afterwards there was tea for the young folk and thoroughly good knife and fork tea for adults. Sports of all kinds were indulged in till dusk. About 10pm there was supper, to which many went, others going to Mr Johnson’s field, where they had a bonfire and some fireworks, including rockets; only a dozen of which, however, were obtainable, such was the demand for them in Lincoln.
Helen Ash, written 2012 for The Witham Staple
(Lincoln artist Peter Moss trained a group who constructed carved brickwork that stands on Stocks Hill, to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee)
Memories of Schooldays
Joyce Close, who has lived in Carlton le Moorland for her whole life related memories of her local schooldays during and after the Second World War:
‘My primary school was on the corner of Church Street in Carlton le Moorland. The school had about 30 pupils divided into two groups, the younger and older ones. There was only one teacher, Miss Harby and she lodged in the village. She taught both groups and taught everything. Each day started with Miss Harby calling every name on the register. We had chant our times tables and alphabet every morning. Miss Harby was keen for us to learn to knit and the scarves we made went to the military during the war. All the children used the same play area and some of us grew flowers in the school garden. One day, someone had misbehaved, and Miss Harby kept us in after school. While we were in detention there was a really loud thunderbolt which frightened us. As we walked home we saw that a very large tree had been struck by lightning and had fallen down across High Street at the very time we would have been walking by. Lucky we were kept in! At Christmas the school had a large Christmas tree to which Miss Harby attached lighted candles which looked pretty but was not very safe!
When I was eleven, I went to secondary school in Bassingham where there were between 60 and 80 children, I think. The school was opposite Bassingham Church and there were three classes; the first was for primary aged children and the other two classes were for secondary aged. Mr Westbrook was the Head. We had all our lessons in one classroom except for music and PE. The one teacher taught us everything except music and PE. I had to cycle to school and had a packed lunch though there were school dinners. The boys and girls had separate playgrounds. The girls played lots of skipping games. A frequent sight at that time was the Attendance Officer who made sure that children attended school. I remember cycling home one day, with other Carlton children, and we were using our skipping ropes to tow each other along, when we spotted the Attendance Officer and immediately jumped off our bikes and played innocent. He stopped to ask what we were up to and we denied doing anything wrong. The vicar was often in school encouraging us to be well behaved. Many children did blackcurrant picking at Norton Disney in school holidays or after school. The blackcurrant fields were enormous and supplied the Ribena factory. Some older children picked potatoes but I never did.
I left Bassingham School when I was 14 and transferred to the Horsa Centre at Leadenham where the girls learned to cook and embroider and the boys did woodwork and metal work. In all the time I was at school we never had any homework. I left school at 15.’
Joyce Close 2020 for The Witham Staple
Note: HORSA centres were built post war and the name is an acronym for ‘Hutting Operation for the Raising of the School-leaving Age’ from 14 to 15.
Carlton le Moorland had a Post Mill and windmill mound, built in 1822, but this was derelict in 1923 and the open trestle post mill collapsed in 1935. It was demolished by 1951.
A Brief Introduction to our Area
The Witham Staple’s name derives from the river which flows through our part of Lincolnshire. The 80 mile long, River Witham, rises south of Grantham, flows north to Lincoln before turning east and south-east towards Boston and the sea.
This area is a fairly flat part of Lincolnshire and lies west of Lincoln Edge (The Cliff), and about 10 miles south of Lincoln. Historically the River Witham was an important communications route for farm products and industrial goods. By the 19th century, increasingly goods were moved by rail and in the 20th and 21st centuries road transport has taken over.
The Witham Staple serves eight settlements: Haddington, Thurlby and Stapleford are small villages, Norton Disney and Aubourn are next in population size and Carlton le Moorland is slightly larger, Bassingham is larger and supports many of the local services. Witham St Hugh’s is a new, fast growing development built on a former airfield. Soon, Witham St Hugh’s will have a population larger than the other seven villages combined. Already it has its own primary school and a range of shops.
As well as local shops, the villages are visited by the Library Van and a host of mobile shops. Other important local services for the other seven villages, include the GPs’ surgery and the primary school, both located in Bassingham which is the largest village. For secondary education children have to travel beyond the area to North Hykeham, Welbourn, Sleaford or Lincoln.
This is a rural area with an emphasis on arable farming, particularly fodder and grain crops, though some potatoes and other vegetables are grown. Increasingly, local people commute to their work and are less and less dependent on farming.