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St Oswald's Church Blankney

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Dedicated to St Oswald, the Anglican parish church of Blankney stands on the site of the original church which it is thought dates back to the 11th Century. Most of the church is Early English and decorated in Gothic style. The tower dates back to 1805-07 with the remainder of the building rebuilt in 1820, during the Hon. Charles Chaplin era. Further restoration was carried out in 1879-80 by Henry Chaplin. According to the list of Rectors displayed on a tablet inside the church, the first known incumbent was Master Roger de Scaccario who took up his position in 1228. The church seats around 300 people and the parish register entries start in 1558. The original vicarage stood adjacent to the church, but in 1880 a new vicarage was built on Longwood Lane, about a quarter of a mile west of the church. This has been privately owned for many years.

Winter on Metheringham Fen - February 2012

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A photo study by S Wetherall.

Winter on Metheringham Fen
Winter on Metheringham Fen

Winter on Metheringham Fen
Winter on Metheringham Fen

Winter on Metheringham Fen
Winter on Metheringham Fen

Images copyright S Wetherall. Used with permission.

Blankney Hall Fire Engine - Early 1900s

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Recently, Claire & Dave Hay contacted the web team with a wonderful discovery. They had discovered a photo of the Blankey Hall Fire Engine in an old album and asked if we would be interested. Of course we were and the image has now been scanned and added to the Blankney Archive.

Blankney Hall Steam Powered Fire Engine - Early 1900s
Blankney Hall Steam Powered Fire Engine

A little bit of research has uncovered that the fire engine is a horse-drawn, Merryweather 'Greenwich Gem' steam powered fire engine. It was able to pump about 100 gallons of water per minute. Merryweather, a London based company, started producing this model around 1896. There are several examples still in existence, including one in the National Railway Museum at York.

Its likely that Lord Londesborough purchased it for Blankney Hall. Fire was one of the greatest fears of country hall owners and it is no surprise that he bought one of the best machines available at the time. Prescient really, considering the fate that eventually befell the Hall.

Incidentally, Merryweather are still in the fire protection business although they have changed hands and location a few times.

The image is a wonderful addition to our Blankney archive and we thank Claire & Dave for their generosity.

A GI's comment on Nocton Hall Hospital

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American GI, Albert G. Netto, commented on our MACLA website in June, 2011 regarding the condition of Nocton Hall Hospital. Here is what he had to say: "It was sad to see how badly deteriorated the hospital had gotten after it was abandoned to the elements. I, at one time, like many that came before me, walked those long, long halls. I was saddened by my search for information on Nocton Hall when I found videos of bands playing heavy metal in the wards and people walking around those same halls with the movie cameras documenting tales about ghosts walking the halls.

Only God knows what they and many others did over time. It seem like nature was not the cause of all that damage. They most likely are being exposed to lead, asbestos and all kinds of fungi during those activities and might be in need of medical care someday. Have some respect for your community. It wasn't a fancy hospital but it served our countries well during many wars. That hospital had a beautiful building just outside its gates. I never saw the inside of this once stately manor.

Metheringham Rail Station

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The railway came to Metheringham in 1882. The line was built from Yorkshire to Cambridgeshire, the Great Northern and Great Eastern Railways. The 'Joint Line', as it became known, was born from a desire by the Great Eastern Railway to link its operating heartland in East Anglia with the coalfields in the North.

The station was opened on 1 August 1882 as Blankney and Metheringham (the signal box today still being referred to as Blankney). Shortly after opening, the prominent landowner and Member of Parliament in the area, the 1st Viscount Chaplin constructed a mile long coach road, known as Blankney Ride, to take visitors discreetly and directly from the station to his home at Blankney Hall. Such visitors are rumoured to include the then Prince of Wales, who would come 'into the country' for 'amorous liaisons'.

The hall was badly damaged by fire in 1945 and subsequently demolished in 1960 but the ride still exists today (complete with bridge to avoid the Blankney-Martin Road) as a pleasant public walk through the woods to Blankney from opposite the station.
(29 Aug 11 - Ed's note .This is factually incorrect. see 1st comment below!)

John Speed's 1611 Map of Lincolnshire

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Cambridge University Library have digitised and placed online John Speed's 1611/1612 atlas of Great Britain. BBC Cambridgshire has this article about the Atlas.

John Speed was a cartographer and historian who produced, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine, an atlas which contained the first set of individual county maps of England and Wales. Many of the county maps included town plans of places he had surveyed himself.

An excerpt from John Speed's 1611 map of Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire excerpt - John Speed 1611 Map

Full-size printed copies of individual counties can be purchased online.

France to Skeggy (via Nocton) in 100 yrs

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A short history of Nocton Estate Light Railway

Back in the late 1800's the owner of Nocton Hall, Lord Ripon urged a friend, George Hodgson (then Chairman of the Yorkshire Bank Co) to use his influence in pressing for the opening of a railway line linking Lincoln with Sleaford. The line was opened on 1st August 1882 with Nocton and Dunston sharing a "new" station which would see passenger trains stop here until the station was closed forever in 1955. But... this was not to be the only railway system that would be an integral part of life in this thriving community.

In 1889-90 Lord Ripon sold the hall and estate to his great friend George Hodgson and he and his descendants ran the community for almost 30 years. It was the last of the Hodgson family, Norman, who passed the hall into the hands of the Americans as a convalescent home for commissioned soldiers in 1917, during WW1. Norman Hodgson and his family, having vacated the hall, took up residence at Embsay House on the outskirts of the village but then at the end of 1919 he decided to sell the hall and estate to Messrs W H Dennis. Up to then much, if not most of Nocton estate, had been farmed by tenant farmers for almost a century and a half, as they gave their loyal support to the lords of the manor.

Mr W.H. Dennis, however, had different ideas on the farming policies of his land and one by one the 26 tenant farmers were given notice to quit so he could manage the entire land himself. Systematically, farm houses on the estate, from the edge of the Lincoln Heath to the Fens, were to be left empty and then in time totally demolished, changing the idyllic Lincolnshire countryside forever. Mr Dennis's actions continued to make him less than popular in the community as woods and hedgerows too were cleared as he increased his arable land to some 8,000 acres, to become one of the major producers of beet, potatoes, wheat and barley in the country. The fact that Nocton Station was on his doorstep was a great advantage to him as his produce could be transported to all points from here.

A problem which became paramount to him however, was the movement of the produce from his land to the railhead but his Estate manager, Major Webber, came up with an inspirational idea of creating a railway system across his land (possibly the first such system in the country). Major Webber, no doubt, got the idea from the actions of the British Army during the Great War, who used a narrow gauge railway system to transport troops and supplies to the front line in the trenches of France.

Sections of this self same narrow gauge line became available from an Army Surplus Depot in Arras, France in 1921 and Mr Dennis quickly made his purchase. Initially just 4 miles of track (1 foot 11 and a half inch gauge) were laid in the low lying fenland to the east of Wasp's Nest but because it was such a success the Nocton Estate Light Railway (N.E.L.R.) system was gradually connected to the railhead, adjacent to the Lincoln to Sleaford railway line and in some places its evidence can still be seen to this day.

Let It Snow!

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A photo essay of Metheringham during the snow fall of the 01 December 2010 by Pete Ford.

Metheringham In The Snow - A photo essay

See the whole album.

A brief history of RAF Digby & the RCAF

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(including extracts - with kind permission - from local publication by Peter Baumber on Kirkby Green and Scopwick)

While some 40 men from Kirkby Green and Scopwick were away at the front in France and elsewhere in WWI (including 14 who failed to return), the war in a sense also came to Scopwick. In 1917 some pasture land west of Scopwick, owned by the Earl of Londesborough and farmed by Henry Wright of Kirkby Green, was requisitioned as an airfield. Gangs of men built aircraft hangars, workshops and domestic accommodation which was used by the Royal Naval Air Service training school at Cranwell as an overflow for the aircraft and cadets.

The aerodrome began its independent life on 28 March 1918 and three days later, on the foundation of the Royal Air Force, it became known as RAF Scopwick. Although the Camp is wholly within the Scopwick parish, in July 1920 the name was changed to RAF Digby to avoid confusion with RAF Shotwick, in Flintshire, Wales, which too was renamed, to RAF Sealand. These changes were prompted by the fact that machinery ordered by the workshops officers at Scopwick was wrongly sent to Shotwick, where it lay for seven months baffling the workshop officers there, who had no use for it.

Return to Blankney

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A wonderful story appeared in the March 1982 edition of Lincolnshire Life. It was written by Reginald Williams who was stationed at Blankney Hall during the war. He was there on that fateful night when the Hall burned down in July 1945 and he describes the scene in vivid detail. Fifteen years after he was de-mobbed from the RAF he returned to Blankney and the story of his visit evokes a roller coaster of memories and emotions. This remarkable story takes us back in time to what was probably the most important day in the history of Blankney.

Blankney Hall Gateway
Blankney Hall Gateway

It was a showery July morning when I arrived at Blankney village, fifteen years after I had left it to be demobbed from the RAF. Much of the village looked the same: the white railings at the crossroads, the school-house on the corner, and the telephone kiosk outside with the little cottage village post-office. Higher up the road between Lincoln and Sleaford was the entrance to the Park and golf course, the grass verges had been trimmed, with cottage gardens displaying their roses. These Tudor-style cottages, laid out by W. A. Nicholson in the 19th century, looked even tidier and cleaner than they had appeared when I was here fifteen years earlier.

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