Most of the items on this page are taken from the first two books in my series with the above title. These two books are out of print but details of the third book can be found on the Books Page of this web site.


Over the years there have been many attempts to explain the origin of the nickname applied to those of us born and bred in the ancient county and these are summarised below:

1. A frog native to the Fens has a yellow belly. It may also be an allusion to the eels which inhabit this area of South Lincolnshire.
2. The waistcoat of the uniform of the Lincolnshire Regiment was yellow. The fastenings of the uniform tunic which were known as frogs were also yellow.
3. Opium extracted from poppy heads and taken to relieve malaria which was prevalent in the Fens turned the skin yellow.
4. Bacon hung up and stored for a long time turned yellow (reasty).
5. The backs of farm workers who stripped to the waist in hot weather turned dark brown but their bellies turned yellow!
6. Sheep grazing in mustard fields got yellow tummies!
7. Apparently women market traders wore a leather apron with two pockets -one for copper and silver and one for gold. At the end of a good day they would say they had "a Yellow Belly" meaning they had taken a large number of gold sovereigns!
8. The most convincing suggestion is that the term originated in the name for the Rural Deanery which serves the fen area of the Lincoln Diocese. In turn this took its name from the Saxon Wapentake which was referred to as "Ye Elloe Bellie".

Elloe means “out of the morass" and bel was the Celtic word for hole or hollow. Therefore, the original Yellow Bellies were the inhabitants of the Fens and the expression over the centuries has been adopted for all inhabitants of the County.



On the afternoon of 6 January every year a traditional game known as the Haxey Hood is played at Haxey. The game is said to have originated in the thirteenth century when a certain Lady de Mowbray who was the wife of John de Mowbray a landowner on the Isle of Axholme was out riding. As she was riding over the hill between the villages of Westwoodside and Haxey her hood was blown away by the wind. Thirteen workers in the field rushed to retrieve it but the young man who captured it was too shy to give it to her ladyship so one of his mates took it to her. She thanked him and said that he had acted like a Lord whereas the young man who had actually caught the hat was a fool. So impressed was Lady Mowbray by this act of chivalry that she made the villagers promise to re-enact the incident ever since.

The re-enactment over the centuries has become known as "The Haxey Hood Game" and takes place on whichever day of the week 6 January falls except Sunday. At twelve noon work in the village comes to a standstill and people begin to gather to witness the traditional ritual. At 2 p.m. the church bells are rung and down the street in procession comes the "Lord" and his eleven "Boggins" together with the "Fool". The "boggins" and "fool" are chosen at a meeting on 26 December (St. John’s Eve). The "Lord" wears a red coat and top hat covered with flowers and he carries a stick made from thirteen willow wands and bound thirteen times. At the church gate the "Fool", standing on an old mounting block, makes his traditional speech of welcome to the waiting crowd.

The "Lord" then leads his officials and the people to the highest ground in the parish where the "Boggins" form a large circle. He then calls on a distinguished visitor to throw the first "hood" in the air.
 The fool opening the game Left : Phil Cogan the Lord for the last eleven years
Centre : Future Lord? Luke Coggan
Right : Immediate past Lord - Stan Bloor
Lord for 24 years
Haxey Hood 6th January 2001

The hood is made from a roll of sacking about two feet long and three inches in diameter. It is up to any man to try and catch it and run away from the crowd. If he is tackled he must immediately throw it in the air unless the challenger is a "Boggin" in which case the hood is "boggined" and it is returned to the "Lord" who then throws it up in the air again. The game continues until 3.30 p.m. when all the captured hoods are redeemed.

Nowadays the "hood" is made from leather and the character of the game has changed. Two teams made up from hundreds of men take part and the game resembles a giant rugby scrum. Who betide anyone who gets in the way!

The intention nowadays is to propel the hood to the door of either the Carpenters Arms, Westwoodside or the King’s Arms, Haxey. The hood remains in the winning pub until the following year when it is redeemed by the Lord for use on 6 January.


The following poem has been in my possession for many years and is credited to Mr H. E. Chivers. For those unfamiliar with the 'forgotten county, the words in capitals are Lincolnshire place names.


MABLE THORPE lived long ago
When gowns were short enough to show
The pantalettes of LACEBY-low.

She had a boy friend, Jack but he,
Having learned his ABY C,
Just UPTON ran away to sea.

MABLE THORPE was no great catch,
With her Ma she lived on a cabbage patch,
In a cottage with a roof of thatch.

One year their crops all had a BLYTON,
But Mable's ma said, "We must fight on".
The end of SOMERBY coming again
And soon our SAXILBY filled with grain.
But alas, it poured and poured with rain.

The corn lay STEEPING in the wet,
The harvest was the poorest yet
And food and money were hard to get.

When the landlord called on quarter day
And Mable's mother couldn't pay,
He said, "I'll let what's owing slide
If only Mable WILLOUGHBY my bride.

The maiden hung her pretty head,
And "Thank you kindly, sir" she said.
But was heard to UTTERBYneath her breath
"T'would be a fate far worse than death".

When next he saw the maiden fair
He cried to her, "I do declare,
I've BOURNE as much as I can bear,
Your ma pays what she OWSTON night,
Or ELSHAM not Sir Jasper White.

And If your answer still is No,
I'll come, ANCASTER in the snow".
They waited till he'd gone for certain
Then Ma crept from behind the KIRTON,
And then though frozen to the marrow,
They piled their goods upon a BARROW
And keeping points of law in mind,
They tied a coloured WRAG BYhind.

They headed EAST OFT looking round
They saw no one and heard no sound.
The snow lay thick upon the ground.

They reached the coast and saw a BRIGG,
On even. KEAL and in full rig.
Then suddenly on the BRIGG behold,
Theres Mable's sweetheart, Jack the bold
His pockets bulging out with gold.

He spied his love, and cried "be mine!"
Your TATTERSHALL be dresses fine
And TEALBY honey, cakes and wine.

Soon they were wed mid joy and laughter,
And all lived APLEY ever after.


The railway first reached Lincoln in 1846 with the first engine arriving on Friday 30 May. So anxious was the Railway Company to gather in revenue that a passenger service was introduced before the stations were built. There were complaints that it cost 5s 6d (271/2p) to travel to Nottingham! However it was possible by travelling on the "penny a mile" trains
which ran at certain times to make the return journey for the same fare.

The Lincolnshire Chronicle and Northampton, Rutland and Nottingham Advertiser for 7 August 1846 reported at great length the official opening of St. Mark's Station which took place on Monday 3 August even though the station had not been completed. The day was a general holiday in Lincoln with most of the shops being closed, all the Church bells were rung and there were flags everywhere. Unfortunately there was a tragic accident which spoilt the day. The Stamford Mercury on 7 August reported as follows:

"A couple of small cannons during the day were fired at intervals in the station grounds. Towards evening one of these burst and a poor man named Paul Harding being struck by apiece of the metal was so injured that the amputation of one of his legs has since been found necessary: a boy was struck upon the hand by another piece and had to suffer the loss
of two fingers."

At a dinner that evening the Chairman of the Railway Company said a pension would be paid to Mr Harding for life but the unfortunate man died soon afterwards. I wonder if Dickens had this incident in mind when writing Great Expectations in which Wemmick fired a cannon "at nine o'clock each night, Greenwich time."

The close proximity of the two level crossings serving St Mark's and the Central Station was a cause of irritation to travellers through Lincoln for many years and it was a relief to many when St Mark's Station closed in 1985. As a farewell to St Mark's Station, Dr Philip Marshall, who was then organist at the Cathedral, set to music the inscription which appears on a memorial in Ely Cathedral to two railwaymen who were killed in an accident in 1845. He added an introduction and ending and the Cathedral Choir sang this on the platform of the refurbished Central Station on 13 May 1985.



Farewell, farewell to Saint Mark's,
and greeting to Lincoln Central.
The Line to heaven by Christ was made
With heavenly truth the Rails are laid
From Earth to Heaven the Line extends
To Life Eternal where it ends.
Repentance is the Station then
Where Passengers are taken on.
No Fee for them is there to pay
For Jesus is himself the way.
God's Word is the first Engineer
It points the way to Heaven so dear .
Through tunnels dark and dreary here
It does the way to Glory steer .
God's Love the Fire, his Truth the Steam,
which drives the Engine and the Train,
All you who would to Glory ride,
Must come to Christ, in him abide.
In First and Second, and Third Class,
Repentance, Faith and Holiness.
You must the way to Glory gain
Or you with Christ will not remain.
Come then poor sinners, now's the time
At any Station on the Line.
If you'll repent and turn from sin
The Train will stop and take you in.
Farewell, farewell to Saint Mark's
But Greeting, Greeting to the new Lincoln Central.


Oswald, King of Northumbria was killed in 642 during the battle of Maserfelth (Oswestry). He was a popular hero who appears to have well deserved veneration as a saint. The King's body was brought to Bardney by his niece, Queen Osryth, but the monks refused to admit the bier and it was left outside the Abbey all night.

During the night a bright light shone from the bier and was seen for a great distance. The monks realised their mistake in refusing admittance and the Abbot gave instructions that thereafter no traveller should be refused entry and all locks should be removed.

So if anyone is asked if they come from Bardney it is meant as a gentle reminder that they have left a door open!


The County Anthem is not as well known as it ought to be even to "Yellow Bellies" so I am reproducing it below :

When I was bound apprentice in famous Lincolnshire,
Full well I serv'd my master, for more then seven year,
Till I took up to poaching, as you shall quickly hear.
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shining night, in the season of the year.

As me and my companions were setting of a snare,
'Twas then we spied the game-keeper - for him we did not care.
For we can wrestle and fight, my boys, and jump o'er anywhere.
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shining night in the season of the year .

As me and my companions were setting four or five,
And taking on 'em up again, we caught a hare alive,
We took the hare alive, my boys, and through the woods did steer.
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shining night in the season of the year.

I threw him on my shoulder, and then we trudged home,
We took him to a neighbour's house, and sold him for a crown,
We sold him for a crown, my boys, but I did not tell you where.
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shining night in the season of the year.

Bad luck to every magistrate that lives in Lincolnshire.
Success to every poacher that wants to sell a hare,
Bad luck to every game-keeper that will not sell his deer.
Oh, 'tis my delight on a shining night in the season of the year.

The Poacher by Harold Addison



Inscriptions on headstones seem to have a fatal (!) fascination for Lincolnshire folk and I have included a selection below. Some appear to us humorous but they were, of course, composed at a time of great sorrow. Several interesting epitaphs of unknown origin appeared in an article some years ago by Mary Burrows in Lincolnshire Life :

'Sacred to the memory of Major James Brush
who was killed by accidental discharge of a pistol.
by his orderly.

April 14th 1831

Well done, good and faithful servant'

The gravestone of one Stephen Rumbold who died at the age of 101 is inscribed :

'Sanguine and strong,
A hundred to one you don't live so long'.

Mary says the shortest inscription she has found is :

'Thorpe's Corpse'.


In the days when infant mortality was very high it was the practice to baptize a child with the name of a deceased brother or sister. A memorial in the church of St Mary and St Nicholas, Spalding to a number of children of the Dove family is rather sad :

'The great Jehova full of love
An angel bright did send
To fetch these little spotless Doves
To joys that never end'.


'Alas poor John
Is dead and gone
Who often toll'd the Bell
And with a spade
Dug many a grave
And said Amen full well

The Scothorne Parish Register records that John Blackburn was buried on 9th January 1739-40. The entry continues :

'He had serv'd the office of Parish Clerk near 50 years ∓mp;mp;mp; had been a decent and faithful servant to nine preceding Vicars at this Parish Church. In Gratitude to the memory of him this short account is given by the present Vicar C. Drake.'


A tombstone in St Peter's churchyard dated 1777 is inscribed as follows :

'Doom'd to receive half my soul held dear,
The other half with grief, she left me here,
Ask not her name, for she was true and just,
Once a fine woman, but now a heap of dust.'

It seems that an unknown lady came to live in the town in 1777 accompanied by a gentleman who left after arranging for her accommodation. She died in childbirth without disclosing her name and the gentleman took the child after arranging for the tombstone to be erected.


'In memory of William Livard alias Count who
departed this life July 25 1733, aged 37

Here lies the unaccountable Count
Who died in his Prime
Drunk, most of his Time
So rest unaccountable Count'.


Memorial in church to Edward Hamby who died in 1626 :

'The King of love which twixt these two was knit
It held full fast till death untied it
Who so in true and honest love do live
To such the Lord especial grace doth give
Well may we hope they come to blessed end
Whom for their truth and love we may commend.'


'In Memory of James Otter
who changed time for immortality
March 25th 1873
Aged 83

Afflictions some long time I bore
Physicians were in vain
Till God did please that death should seize
And rid me of my pain.'


There are a number of Memorials to the Shepherd family in Northmarsh Cemetery, Gainsborough. Amongst them are the following :

'...John Shepherd Master Mariner died 5 October 1854 aged 47, he was one of the pirates on board the French steamer Strombolt...

also Charles Shepherd who accidentally drowned in the River Ouse died 19 October 1839 aged 21...

also John William Shepherd aged 26 lost at sea from the ship China 4 November 1869.'


'By the side of him who was her Heart's choicest treasure
lyeth Elizabeth Linton widow 29th April 1794, aged 70.

Elizabeth the wife of John Linton Clerk, Interred 5th January 1749, aged 66.

At the feet of his Grandmother (whom he resembled as well in sweetness
of disposition as in person) lieth Edward Linton interred 3rd June 1769, aged 5.'


The following epitaph was included in an undated pamphlet published by Rev. Canon Brian Wisken :

'Take heed all ye who pass me by
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you will be
So be prepared to follow me.'

This is not an uncommon epitaph and Can Wisken says that in some cases the following two lines have been added :

'To follow you I'm not content
How do I know which was you went'.


'In loving memory of ARKIN MOODY the beloved husband of
ELIZA MOODY who died September 26th 1905 aged 53 years.
His last words were 'God bless us all'.


'In memory of ANN widow of WILLIAM DANBY
died September the 10th 1781 aged 69.

She many ills with patience bore, but [was] human and was vain,
so Heavens king she did implore, who freed her from all pain'.


Who Died February 1841 aged 3 years.
CHJRISTOPHER BLYTH April 3rd 1841 Aged 16 months.
Two precious plants, in my garden grew
Which unto me were given
And when the Lord did think it right
He planted them in Heaven'.


The memorial to Mary, wife of Edward Wells of North Cockerington and daughter of David Parker of Humberstone who died on May 21st 1836 aged 71 reads as follows :

'My dear Redeemer is above
Him I am gone to see
And all my friends in Christ beloved
Will soon come after me'.

Also at Grimoldby is a memorial top John Gibson who died on January 7th 1847 aged 27 :

'Afflictions some long time I bore
Physicians were in vain
Trill Christ the Chief
Sent me relief
And eased me of my pain'.


A gravestone on the South wall of St Andrew's church reads as follows :

long a resident in the parish
after witnessing the vicissitudes
attendant on a protracted existence
was released
from its cares and infirmities
on the
twenty-second day of September 1826
in the 94th year of his age.'

Emmitt was a large landowner and cattle dealer who lived at Partney. He had many narrow escapes from highwaymen when returning home after selling cattle in the London markets.

Cherry Willingham

'To the memory of Frances the wife of George LYON and daughter of Josh and
Elizh BURNETT who departed this life December 29th 1820, aged 46 years.

Dark was the night and bitter was the blast
And rain and wind in ceaseless fury vied
So by the raging storm o'come at last
On the cold bank I laid me down and died'.

The Burial Register states that poor Frances died 'by severity of weather'.


The memorial to Hannah the wife of Benjamin Cook who died on 26 September 1834 aged 72 is inscribed :

'Yes the Christians course is run
Ended is the glorious strife
Fought is the fight, the work is done
Death is swallowed up in life'.

The memorial to H. E. Young who died on 14 May 1824 aged 20 years reads as follows :

'Ye virgins learn from hence your fate
How frail is all your blooming state
Your beauty soon must face away
But virtues charms will ne'er decay'.


A young Lincolnshire man received the following letter from the father of his girl-friend :

Feb 27 1886


I want you to understand that Maria, my daughter, has given you the mitten. I haven't and won't do so until you've paid for your pleasure. You can't come fooling round my house two nights a week an' using the parlour as if it were your own, without paying for the luxury and the bill I have made out is very reasonable. But that's neither here nor there, and I shan't set any lawyer on you or sue you in court, but I'll thrash the life out of you. You hear me?

Yours truly,
Hezekiah Blodgers.

Mr John James Smith, Dr to Hezekiah Blodgers


        To three months use of parlour
        Thursday and Sunday evenings             3 0 0

        To gas and coal used for your comfort
        at 1s a night, which is very reasonable  1 4 0

        To the old lady's trouble in keeping
        the children out of the parlour
        while you were with Maria               0 10 0

        To broken rocking chair - what I
        paid for it being mended                 0 3 0

        To suppers at various times              1 7 0

        To springs and upholstering damaged
        in lounge where Maria and you used
        to sit together - call it                 15 0

        Which adds up to                        6 19 0



A Strange ‘Happening’ at Belton House

An uncanny manifestation appeared on a framed family tree of the Brownlows which hung on the wall of a dark passage at Belton House. It took the form of a shadow of a woman in period costume which materialised beneath a sealed plastic coating which had been placed over the family tree to protect it from dust and damage. This made it impossible to wash off and even more astonishing was the appearance the following day of a decidedly feminine neck adorned by a pearl necklace. The phenomenon continued to grow and the dark outline of a period gown manifested itself to link hands, neck and shoulders but the figure remained headless. It is said that the figure is of Belton's Bright Lady who appears regularly in the Main Staircase Hall and is reputed to be Lady Alice Sherald who lived in the early seventeenth century.

Belton has another ghost which has made regular appearances for many years. It is of a tall dark man dressed in a black cloak and hat who haunts the Queen's Bedroom used by William III on his visits to Belton.

The Phantom Parson

During the nineteenth century the vicar of Caistor, Rev George Watson, visited his parishioners in the outlying villages on horseback. At one of his calls the stable he used was owned by a widow and before long it was rumoured that be was "carrying on" with her and he was much distressed. Eventually he became so worried that in a fit of depression he killed himself. An inquiry completely cleared him and he was buried in the south aisle of Caistor church.

His spirit is said still to haunt the vicarage. The dining room has two large French windows and a ghostly figure has often been seen to pass by going towards the house door. The members of one family who lived at the Vicarage all testified to having seen a clergyman dressed in grey and doors have been heard opening when there could have been no one else in the house.

The Poltergeist of Epworth

In his diary Samuel Wesley the father of John and Charles recorded "many strange noises, groans and knockings in every storey and most rooms" in Epworth Rectory. These ghostly happenings apparently took place from early December 1716 until February of the following year. Wesley describes the happenings as follows:

"My daughters Susannah and Ann were below stairs in the dining room and heard, first at the doors then over their heads, and the night after a knocking under their feet, though nobody was in the chambers or below them; the servants heard groans of a dying man."

Mr Wesley goes on to describe numerous incidents of this nature and in addition the door latch was lifted several times. Wesley also says that whilst prayers for the Royal Family were being -said there was "a great noise over our heads constantly, whence some of the family called it a Jacobite. I have been thrice pushed by an invisible power once against the corner of my desk in the study, a second time against the right side of the frame of my study door as I was going in".

Apparently the haunting eventually ceased in February 1717 and although it is said that the Wesleys were not very popular in the Isle of Axholme and the hauntings could have been the work of Jacobite sympathisers they have never been satisfactorily explained.

Animal Apparitions

A ghost of a white calf is said to have appeared several times towards the end of the nineteenth century on the road between Wrawby and Brigg. Apparently the apparition attempted to lure travellers into the bog and, therefore, became known as ‘the lacky causey corf' which translated means the leaky or wet causeway calf!

Animal apparitions are common in Lincolnshire. There was a black dog with fiery eyes which haunted the churchyard at Northorpe and another haunts the road leading to Moortown House. Yet another black dog is to be seen near the Fish Pond at Blyborough. If you see a white dog at Digby bad luck will be yours if you speak before you see a white horse!

There is also the mischievous foal which has been seen in several parts of
the county!

The Shaking Gravestone

In the early nineteenth century one Dick Rainforth used to collect dead cattle from farmers who grazed their cattle on Laughton Common near Gainsborough. He used to sell their hides but when business was poor he helped it along by poisoning the cattle. This was discovered and he hanged himself in a farm barn at East Ferry.

Because he had committed suicide he could not be buried in consecrated ground and he was interred on the Common. Legend has it that his ghost walks at night and if you stand on the gravestone at midnight it starts to shake!


Whooping Cough

Take the child to a horse let the animal breath down its throat and a cure will be affected.

You could try frying some mice and giving them to the child to eat!

Perhaps you would rather try putting a black beetle or spider in a bag and hanging it under the child's neck. As the insect decays the cough will disappear .

An effective cure is to put shredded garlic in a sock which is worn while sleeping.

Another cure is to take a lock of the child's hair and place between two slices of bread. The "sandwich" is given to a dog of the opposite sex to eat and the child will recover!

Mice pie in a white sauce is also an effective cure for this complaint.


This disorder used to be very common in Lincolnshire before the drainage and enclosure of the fens and a great variety of charms were tried.

An old lady who was troubled by this complaint devised the following cure which she insisted worked. At the foot of her bed she nailed three old horse shoes with a hammer placed crosswise upon them.

‘When the old 'un comes to shake me, Yon'll fix him safe as t'church steaple; he weant nivver pass yon’. She explained: ‘It's a chawm. Oi taks the mell i' moy left hand and I taps they shoes an' says : ‘Feyther, Son and Holy Ghoast, I Naale the divil to this poast. Throice I strikes with holy crook, Won fur God, an' won fur Wod, an' won for Lok.’

A strange incantation invoking the pagan gods Woden (the bringer of gifts), Thor with his hammer and Lok, the spirit of evil, who are joined by the Holy Trinity and the Holy Crook.

Henry Winn records another cure which used cabalistic words or signs written on paper which was folded and worn by the sufferer suspended from his neck. The patient was not to know what was written on the paper or the ague would not be cured. Winn says that he knew personally those who said they had been cured by this means and he commented ‘So much for the effect of imagination!’

He gives the following as an example of one of these charms:


Sufferers could also try digging up seven worms from a Churchyard cutting them up small and swallowing them! Perhaps you would rather make live spiders should be made into a paste with butter and then spread the concoction on bread and eat it. You might prefer to put the spiders in a bag which should then be hung round the neck. If all else fails chips from a gibbet or gallows placed in a bag and worn round the neck will no doubt do the trick.

Henry Winn suggests that rum or laudanum might be a more effective cure!


The patient should fill his mouth with cold water and sit by the fire until the water boils.


A potato carried in the pocket is a good cure.


Take six to ten onions and chop fine. Put in a large pan over a hot fire then add the same quantity of rye meal and vinegar to form a thick paste. Stir thoroughly and simmer for five or ten minutes. Then put in a cloth bag large enough to cover the lungs and apply to the chest as hot as the patient can bear. In about ten minutes apply another and continue repeating the poultices and in a few hours the patient will be out of danger or done to a turn.



The following two epitaphs were recorded in Lincolnshire Notes and Queries Vol XXXIII 1936 pages 54 and 146. It seems, not surprisingly, that there was some doubt as to their authenticity but I am sure readers will find them good examples of "grave humour". The first was said to be inscribed on a memorial at Ashby cum Fen by but no location is given for the second.

‘Here lies the bodie of old Will Loveland
He's put to bed at length with a shovel, and
Eas'd of expenses for raiment and food
Which all his life tyme he would fain have eseyewed
He grudged his housekeeping -his children's support
And laid in his meates of the *cag mag sorte,
No fyshe or fowle touch'd he, when 'twas dearly bought
But a green taile or herrings, a score for a groate
No friend to the needy
His wealth gather'd speedy,
And never did naught but evil
He liv'd like a hogg
And dyed like a dogg
And now he rides post to the devil’.

*cag mag = tough, inferior meat, carrion

‘Here lies a poor woman who always was tired
She lived in a world where too much was required
'Weep not for me' she said, 'friends for I'm going
Where there'll neither be working, nor reading, nor sewing
Then weep not for me friends if death us do sever
For I'm going to do nothing for ever and ever.’

The following two epitaphs are also of unknown origin:

‘He was well but soon was gone
His life was snatched away
When riding on his horse
It was a fatal day
He fell into a water pit
And therefore lost his life
He left six children for to weep
And also left a wife.’

‘Nothing left on earth to please us
Little Johnie's gone to Jesus.’


"Near this place interred there lies
One whom the Quakers did despise
His poverty caused him disgrace
They denied him of his burying place
Though by his friends it hath been said
'Towards their burying place large sums he paid'
Tho' poor Robert might not there be laid
Oh, friends how could you be so hard
To let him lie in this Churchyard,
A place you all dislike we know,
How could you displace a brother so
In memory here this stone doth stand
Of Robert, son of John and Sarah Swan
In One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty Nine
He did his Soul to God resign".


A headstone in the churchyard at Corby records that it was erected by subscription to the memory of Joseph Wright who died on 11 October 1835 aged 60 years. He was "an eminent auctioneer whose irresistible
humour and brilliant wit obtained for him an extensive circle of friends".

‘Beneath this stone facetious wight
Lies all thats left of poor Joe Wright
Few hearts with greater kindness warmed
Few heads with knowledge more informed
With pleasant wit and humour broad
He pleased the Peasant, Squire or Lord
At length old Death with visage queer
Assumed Joe's trade of auctioneer
Made him the lot to practice on
With going, going and anon
He knocked him down, so poor Joe's gone’.


Epitaphs to two sisters:

‘Oh cruel husband how could you take
My life so fair, so sweet
My babes cry for Mother dear
My friends to mourn and weep
April 26th 1899 aged 30 years’.

‘Oh cruel death that would not be denied
But cut the bonds of love so lately tied
The friend and partner I so greatly prized
Forever hid from my weeping eyes
October 30th 1899 aged 27 years’.

Stamford St John

Memorial to William Pepper who died on 23 March 1783

‘Though hot by name, yet mild by nature
I bore goodwill to every creature
I brewed fine ale and sold it too
And unto each I gave his due.’

Crowland Abbey

‘Beneath this place Six Foot in length against ye clarks
plot Iyeth the Body of Mr Abrm Baly
he dyed ye 3 of Jan 1704

Also ye Body of Mary his wid:
She dyd the 21 of May 1705

Also the body of Abrm Son of ye sd Abrm ∓mp;mp;mp; Mary
he dyed ye 13 Jan 1704
also 2 which dyed in there Enfantry.

Mans Life is like unto a winters day
some brake there fast and so departs away
other stay dinner then departs full fed:
the longest age but Supps and goes to bed.
O Reader then behold and see
as wee are now so must you be.


‘Here lieth interred Jane eldest daughter of George Bourne late of
Haugh and of Jane his wife who died at Liverpool, the 23rd of October
1816. Aged 32 years.

Her dying words were,

'Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil
for thou art with me'

Jesus can make a dying bed,
Feel soft as downy pillars are,
While on his breast I lean my head
And breathe my life out sweetly there."

Grimsby, St James

‘Here lies the one who strove to equal time
A task too hard each power too sublime
Time stopped his motion o'erthrew his balance wheel
Wore off his pivots though made of harden'd steel
Broke all his springs, the verge of life decay'd
And now he is though he'd ne'er been made
Not for the want of oiling that he tried
If that had done why then he ne'er had died

To the memory of Edward Ward
Who died 12th December 1847
Aged 54 years."


On the spot where William Smith, a huntsman with Lord Yarborough's hounds, was killed by falling from his horse is an obelisk with the following inscription:

‘This stone the name of 'William Smith' records,
The Huntsman skilled, of two of Yarbro's Lords -
Honest and true, of temper well approved,
By 'Master' honoured, and by 'Field' beloved;
No need to paint that well-known form and face,
Which, stampt on memory, finds a welcome place
In the warm hearts that knew him - they recall,
By covet side, in cottage, farm and Hall
(Where friend meets friend beside the yule-log's glow,
And kindly feelings swell and overflow),
Those happy days, when on the breeze were borne
‘Will's’ tuneful holloa and his echoing horn,
Cheering his gallant pack, so stout and bold,
A perfect horseman as e'er crossed the Wold!
And as the vision fades, too bright to last,
They sigh, to think those days are now ‘the past’,
No need of aught, for such as knew him best,
To keep in mind their valued friend ‘at rest’ -
But for posterity, this stone shall tell
The fatal spot where, midst his friends, he fell
And bid them ponder, both in faith and fear,
Hope frail the tenure of man's sojourn here!"


'Sacred to the memory of Reboth Robinson master mariner.
Born at Mumby Chapel May 23, 1831.
Died at Boston October 30 1906.

He served under Sir Edward Belcher in the search for Sir John Franklin 1852 to 1854 and was the last survivor of that expedition"


‘This Stone is erected in memory of Mr Samuel Stockton late of Ashley in the parish of Leigh and County of Lancaster who was most barbarously murdered near this place on the eighth of December 1768 for which murder one Philip Hooton was tried and condemned at Lincoln Assize and afterwards executed and hung in chains in the very place where the horrid deed was committed’


The memorial to Margaret the wife of John Ross who died on 6 January 1817 aged 58 reads as follows :

‘Farewell vain world I’ve had enough of the[e]
But now I’m careless what thou say’st of me
Your smiles I court not nor your frowns I fear
My cares are past my head lies quiet here
What faults you see in me take care to shun
And look at home, enough is to be done’.


The Green Lady

Probably the best known of all Lincolnshire Ghosts is the Green Lady of Thorpe Hall, Louth, which dates back to Elizabethan times.

Sir John Bolle, who built the Hall in 1584, took part in the siege of Cadiz in 1596 and it is said that a Spanish Lady of noble birth fell in love with him but the Lincolnshire knight was already married and remained true to his wife.

Before retiring to a nunnery the Spanish lady, who is thought to have been Donna Leanora Oviedo, gave Sir John several gifts to take home to his wife - including tapestry, plate and jewels and a portrait of herself by Zucharo in a green dress.

For a long time this portrait hung in Thorpe Hall. The picture and the treasures have long since gone...but the ghost of the Green Lady was said to haunt the Old Hall for centuries afterwards.

Sir John Bolle was born in 1560 at Haugh near Alford and was buried at Haugh in 1606 aged 46.

Another Louth Ghost

Louth seems to be particularly blessed with ghosts!

A strange knocking has been heard coming from the wall of a shop in Upgate.

These premises were once known as ‘Cromwell House’ and it is also said to have been the site of an Inn where King John stayed on his journey through Lincolnshire!

The room where the noises occur is immediately above the shop and the walls are eight feet thick. Cock fighting and dog fighting took place here at one time and animal bones have been found in a hidden room on the ground floor immediately below the area where the sounds can be heard.

The Irby Boggle*

At Irby it is said that each year, on the spot where a young girl was murdered in 1455, her ghost appears.

It seems that in November of that year, on the evening before their wedding, she and her future husband disappeared whilst on a walk. The intended husband returned two years later, saying the couple had quarrelled whilst on the walk and he had assumed the girl had returned home.

Although the villagers heard screams from the surrounding woods on the night the couple disappeared nothing was ever proved against the young man. However, some years later bones were discovered by workmen which were confirmed as those of a young woman.

*boggle: an apparition, ghost, hobgoblin.

The Ghost of Bolingbroke Castle

A document in the Bodleian Library, Oxford records a happening at Bolingbroke Castle which was, of course, the birthplace of Henry IV son of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster and Blanche, his first wife.

The document reads as follows:

‘One thing is not to be passed by and is affirmed as a certain truth by many of ye Inhabitants of ye Towne upon their own Knowledge, which is, that ye Castle is Haunted by a certain spirit in the Likeness of a Hare which at ye meeting of ye Auditors doeth usually runne between their legs and sometymes overthrows them and so passes away. They have pursued it down into ye Castle yard and seene it take in at a grate into a low Cellar and have followed it thither with alight, where notwithstanding that they did most narrowly observe it (and that there was noe other passage out, but by ye doore, or windowe, ye room being all framed of stones within, not having ye least Chinke or Crevice), yet they could never find it. And at other tymes it hath beene seene run in at the Iron-Grates below into
other of ye Grottos (as thir be many of them), and they have watched the place and sent for Houndes and put in after it but after awhile they have come crying out.’

Markby Church

Legend has it that if, at midnight, you run three times around the thatched church at Markby and hammer a nail into the church door you will see a ghost.

Hundreds of nail-heads in the door bear witness to the many attempts to experience this phenomena.

No doubt many apparitions were in fact the irate Vicar, awakened by the midnight banging, suddenly appearing in his night shirt!

Bishop King's Protector

One wet cold night shortly after he had returned home very tired, Edward King who was then a young curate, was called to a farmer living three miles away, across the fields, who had met with a serious accident and wanted him to come at once. King put his boots on again and started off but it was very dark and he could not find the man who had brought the message. When he reached the farm the door was opened by the farmer himself who said he had sent no message and so King returned home.

Some years afterwards King, who by then had been consecrated Bishop of Lincoln, was summoned to a dying man in hospital who asked if the Bishop remembered him.

King couldn't until reminded that the man had lived in the village where he had been curate. It seemed that this bad character had sent the message calling King to the farm intending to murder him but changed his mind when he saw that he had a companion with him.

The Bishop had seen and heard no one but the man was convinced that there were two travellers.

The Ghost of Fulletby Rectory

Henry Winn records the following ghost story connected with Fulletby Rectory :

Apparently the original Rectory was rebuilt in the early years of the nineteenth century. During the rebuilding a human skull was found and this was buried in the churchyard. The next morning it was found among the rubble on the site of the old Rectory and was again buried in .le churchyard. The next morning yet again it was found among the debris and it was decided to wall it up in the chimney of the new building.

When the new Rectory was completed and inhabited unexplained noises were heard and there was a particular passage which appeared to the favourite haunt of a ghost. Particularly loud noises came from the kitchen which sounded as if all the crockery was being broken.

The next morning nothing was disturbed or broken. The servants used to wake up cold and shivering to discover that their bedcoverings had been mysteriously removed. Many left their employment unable to cope with the activities of the ghost.

In 1854 the Rev Mr Jackson had the Rectory almost rebuilt. The haunted passage was closed up, the chimney pulled down and the hauntings ceased.

Ghosts at Halton Holegate

James John Hissey in Over Fen and Wold (London 1898) records a visit which he made to Halton Holegate towards the end of the last century.

The tenants of High Farm were plagued by strange noises during the night and the farmer's wife insisted that, on several occasions, she had seen the ghost of a little hunchback. The farm was a popular tourist attraction and became known as Ghost Farm.

Another Halton phenomena is said to foretell an imminent death in the village and has become known as ’Clay's Light’.

It appears that Thomas Clay was a bachelor who lived by himself in a small tin hut about a mile from the church across the fields. He was a Churchwarden and every Sunday evening walked from his house across the fields to the parish church for the evening service. Thomas loved this weekly walk (Clay's walk) and refused to go by the road to Church. Eventually he died while still holding the office of churchwarden and left a Will stating that on the funeral day he wished the bearers to carry his coffin across the fields on its last journey to the church. He left sufficient money to pay for this but his wishes were disregarded and he was brought to church via the road! All went well until the evening of the funeral day when as soon as darkness fell villagers saw a brilliant light travel from Clay's hut across the fields through the churchyard and settle on the church tower.

Ever since then a light has appeared above or very near to the house where someone is shortly going to die. It has never been known to fail to do this.



Dissolve some glycerine in a cup standing in a pan of hot water. Then stir in sufficient Epsom Salts to form a paste and spread on the boil.


Put a heaped tablespoon of Cattle Epsom Salts and apiece of Common Soda about the size of a small nut into half a gallon of warm water and soak chilblains for 10 to 15 minutes.


Carrying a lucky bone in your shoe will keep off the cramp or wearing a ring made from the hinge of a coffin.


Take two ounces of soap a day for three months with powdered oyster shell and egg.


A halter by which anyone has been hung if tied about the head will cure the headache.

Moss growing upon a human skull if dried, powdered and taken as snuff will also cure the headache.


Nightmares can be prevented if stockings are hung crossways at the foot of the bed. If you lie on your side this will ward off nightmares but if you lie on your back this will probably cause them.

Another preventative is to hang a stone with a hole in it at the head of the bed.


Sufferers from rheumatism can be cured of this common complaint by getting confirmed again! However, if the clergy disapprove of this remedy the patient could try the following recipe:

Boil oz of Celery Seed in a pint of water until reduced to half a pint.
Strain and bottle corking well.
Take one teaspoonful twice a day for a fortnight.
Repeat if necessary.


A weak or ruptured child should be drawn through a tree that has been split. The tree is then bound together again and, as the tree unites, the child will gather strength.

Sore Throat

If a child has got a sore throat the following remedy should be tried:

Take a live frog and put it into the child's mouth. Holding it by the leg, let the child suck it to death and the sore throat will disappear.

No doubt when one says "I've got a frog in my throat" to describe the above affliction this is its origin!


If the hand of a criminal who has been executed be passed nine times over a swelling it will be dispelled.


Sell them to a friend for what you can get; wrap the money up and hide it not looking at it again and you will soon lose your warts.

Rub them with a piece of raw beef and then bury it. As the flesh decays the wart will die.

Rub them every morning with the inside of a bean shard and they will gradually disappear.

Tie a piece of silk round the warts; cut off the ends of the silk. Wrap them up and lose them and so you will lose your warts and, not know where or when.

The wart can be rubbed with a snail which is then buried.

Another method is to rub dandelion juice on the wart.

Yet another method of getting rid of warts which Henry Winn suggests is more acceptable than any of the above is to rub the warts with a cinder and then throw it over your head. The person who finds the cinder will get your warts.

On the whole I think I prefer the ministrations of the National Health Service - although I suppose we don’t really know what is in some of the tablets do we?

I concluded A LINCOLNSHIRE HOTCHPOTCH with the following item:

And in Conclusion

Horseshoes seem to be universally regarded as lucky and to bring good fortune you should hang them with the "tails" upwards so that the good luck won't run out!

However, gypsies hang them on their side like a letter "C" so that any bad luck already in the shoes can run out before the good luck is trapped inside!

In the Middle Ages paintings of the Holy Family always depicted the halos in gilt or gold leaf which, as the colouring of the figures faded, left the halos still clearly visible. This "horseshoe" shape with the "tails" downwards came to be regarded as lucky and this is the way in which horseshoes are depicted in heraldry.

So in wishing all visitors to this web site "good luck" may I recommend hanging a horseshoe in your house - I leave the manner of doing this to you!

The first and second Lincolnshire Hotchpotch books, from which these extracts are taken, are out of print. If you have found them interesting you may like to look at my Books Page which contains details of A Third Lincolnshire Hotchpotch which is the final book in this series.

Last updated: 18/11/2011