History of the Village

Church View

Photo by Barnes Collection

Freiston Shop in 1920/30s

The village of Freiston is situated in an extensive farming area, near the sea and about three and a half miles to the east of Boston.  In the Doomsday Book it is called ‘Fristune’.  Leland called it ‘Freiston’ and Stukeley says ‘Freston’.   (Thompson, 1856)  There are arguments as to whether the name is derived from Frith, meaning bay, or the more likely suggestion that Freiston was originally settled by a colony from Friestland and was the town of the Frieslanders.

Doomsday mentions a survey of Butterwick which had two churches and two priests making the present Freiston Church in Hundred of Butterwick.  Guy or Wido de Croun came over with William the Conqueror and the King rewarded him with fifty townships, among them was Freiston where he founded the seat of his baronetcy.  His son Alan who was the Great Steward of Henry I also came to Freiston and set up his Manor and in 1114 laid the foundation stone for the Abbey Church (joined at the east end of St James’ Church) and placed at Freiston a Prior and Monks.

The population 1565 contained 147 families and in 1801 the population was 734.  In 1851 there were 624 males and 619 females.  The number of habited houses was 265 with 6 uninhabited.  (Thompson, 1856)

Freiston village also has four hamlets which are Freiston Shore, Scrane End, Haltoft End and Freiston Ings.  Today there are over 424 properties in the parish with an approximate adult population of 830.

Village Centre

There was at one time a statutory fair in Freiston; in 1263 the King granted to John de Vallibois a license that he and his heirs for ever might have a fair every year, for three days on the day and days after the feast of St James.  In 1274 Simon claimed the fair of Freiston with right of gallows and a ducking stool.  On the corner opposite the churchyard, where the village cross and stocks once stood is the Public House (Bull & Dog).  It was used by visitors to the Priory as their overflow guest house.  Although in 1785, records show it was known as ‘Cross Hill House’.  Further from the centre is ‘The King’s Head’, a quaint and historic public house.

A Wesleyan Chapel was established in the village as long ago as 1866 and is opposite the church on Church View. This was closed in the 1950's and after being used for storage is now a private dwelling.  The United Methodists had a chapel at Scrane End, where the steward was Mr Fred Woodward of Miramar House, a long-serving lay preacher.   (This is now a  private residence)  There was a further Chapel at Halltoft End, this has now been knocked down.

Freiston Playing Field

The playing field was bought in 1943 at public auction for £2550 by eight local public spirited gentlemen, who formed a syndicate under the chairmanship of Canon Peter Paine (vicar of Freiston).  Fortunately for the parish those eight persons agreed to donate £300 each as an interest free loan to purchase from Mrs Fanny Cooper who at that time owned the land.  For two years this land was farmed and the profits given back to the Parish to repay the eight initial subscribers.  It was originally called the Octagon Field because it had eight sides and contained eight acres; it is now six acres and is maintained by the Playing Field Association.

In 1979 the Association completed the registration of handing over the playing field to the Charity Commissioners, this meant that it was free of paying Income Tax and rates, and became a registered charity.  (No. 507256)  ‘TO PROVIDE RECREATION FACILITIES FOR THE PEOPLE OF THE VILLAGE OF FREISTON AND SURROUNDING AREA, AND IN PARTICULAR THE UPKEEP OF A PLAYING FIELD AND COMMUNITY CENTRE.'

The Pavilion on the Playing Field was opened by Sam Newsom and originally was the Bar and Social Club, but sadly this is no longer used.  The field has a children’s play area, and is used for football, cricket, together with a bowling green with its pavilion.  The Bowls club was formed in 1964 and is still playing matches today.  In the past it also had a tennis court, the club originally being formed in 1960 and played in the Boston League.

The foundations for the local community hall, named The Danny Flear Centre’ in memory of a former benefactor of the village were laid in 1979 and opened in 1980 on the playing field.  A lot of local fund raising had been required and thanks to the committee members this difficult and mammoth task has yielded the necessary amount to qualify for the various grants available. 

The committee of nine members met in the centre on 16th April 1980 for their inaugural meeting and elected their officers as follows.
Chairman - Mr N R Smith
Vice-Chairman - Mr G Clayton
Secretary - Mr B Clayton (Barry was involved with the Playing Field/Centre for 30 years)
Letting Secretary - Mrs L Watson.
Members: Mr D Pearson, Mrs D Skinner, Mrs O Flear, Mrs J Paine and Mr J Wren.
This committee is responsible to the Management Trustees of the Freiston Playing Field Association.

It is known that a fire destroyed the kitchen before it was officially opened, which was in 1982.

Inside the centre is the official plaque:

  • This Community Centre was inspired by Danny Flear and erected through the generosity of his friends, the people of Freiston and charitable trusts.  Opened by his wife Olwyn on July 18th 1982.

December 2015   -   A three-year £78,000 project  for Danny Flear Community Centre has reached its conclusion.  Work included a total refurbishment of the centre’s toilets and the provision of baby changing and disabled facilities.  The makeover was finished off with a   completely refitted kitchen, energy-efficient LED lighting, a new fibreglass flat room and double-glazed windows.
(see attached article with photographs)

Leading from the village centre, is a track known as Fox Hole Lane which has an interesting story according to ‘Trotter’. 

  • ‘A young man called Fox and his girl planned to meet down the lane, which leads to Spittal Hill.  The leaves were on the trees.  The girl arrived first.  To her horror she saw a hole had been dug beside a tree.  She thought that she was going to be murdered by him so she climbed the tree.  He comes and waits there for some time.  At last he goes, and then she runs away.  A short time after they were both invited to a wedding.  In the meantime she had composed a song.  She was asked to sing, and this is the chorus of her song:
    The tree did shake,
    And my heart did ache,
    To see the hole,
    The Fox did make.’

Spittal Hill

Spittal Hill is situated on the A52, at the end of Fox Hole Lane.  The name, Spittal, suggests that this could have been an infirmary or hospital for the Monks of the Priory.  We believe without doubt that the foundations had been sited at Spittal Hill.

On the north side of the A52 there used to be another village public house ‘The Flying Horse’, in 1911 the licensee was a Mr Hardy  This would serve Butterwick people more than Freiston together with travellers on the Boston to Skegness A52 road.  It was only a beer house and served directly out of the jug from the barrel.  In April 1960 the life of this small country public house with over 70 years service came to an end.  The landlord and his wife, Mr Mrs T Lacey, who had kept ‘The Flying Horse’ for 15 years moved to their new home ‘The Golden Lion’ at Fishtoft.  In 1958 the darts team from ‘The Flying Horse’ won the Boston and District Darts League Cup and in 1959 one of the members, Mr J Kime was the ‘Licensed Victuallers Association’ darts champion.

Haltoft End

The hamlet of Haltoft End is at the north of the village on the A52.  The hamlet consists of many houses and a thriving public house called ‘The Castle’.  The blacksmiths shop stands on the site of the now demolished Free Methodist Chapel.  The foundation stone for the chapel was laid on the 24th May 1894 by Sir W J Ingram, Bart, MP.  Previously members of the congregation had worshipped in a wooden building in the village before deciding to build a substantial chapel of brick.  The assembly on that May afternoon joined in singing the hymn ‘The stone to Thee in faith we lay’, the Rev A Sayers read the 126th Psalm and the concluding portion of the Sermon on the Mount, and Councillor Crowson prayed; and then the Rev H Kellett called upon Councillor Everitt to introduce Sir Wm Ingram.

A further public house ‘The Jolly Farmer’ on the main road on the corner of what is now Jolly Farmer Lane was in fact on the Fishtoft boundary.  This was a beer house with no bar but it served the people from Haltoft End and main road travellers.

Freiston Ings

North of Haltoft End is Freiston Ings which had its own school and chapel.  The school is now a private residence and the chapel is used for storage and there is no more building allowed in the area.

Scrane End

The quiet hamlet of Scrane End was known as Crane End in the Doomsday Book.  The most impressive building in Scrane End is Miramar House, which has farm buildings and a large monument in the centre of its lawn.  A date on the end of the barn indicates that it was built in 1832.  In the centre of the hamlet is the Methodist Chapel, which has now been turned into a house.  The Chapel was built in 1887 and served all the surrounding houses and Freiston Shore.  The cottage next to the Chapel is thought to have been the school; evidence shows that a schoolmaster and mistress lived in the hamlet.  Scrane End had its own pub, called ‘The Nags Head’, now a private residence.  The outgoings of ‘The Nags Head’ were at one time a blacksmiths.

The windmill on Mill Lane was built in about 1827; and is now Grade II listed; this tower mill ceased work by wind in 1924 when the sails were removed, continuing to work by engine for a little while afterwards.  It had four patent sails, driving three pairs of stones.  The majority of the gear has gone but the wallower and upright shaft remain.  The great spur wheel is now removed.  There is also an engine driven hurst on the ground floor.  The tower now stands disused and derelict.

Mill Pit

On the road to North Sea Camp you pass through Mill Pit which once had a pit covering approximately half an acre.  On the Freiston side of the pit stood a large pillar with a water pump.  In dry time farmers arrived with horse drawn water tanks in order to take water away for their stock.  The pit was surrounded by reeds which teemed with wild life and next stood white painted cottages that contrasted with the black windmill.

Country Houses in and around Freiston
(now private residences)

The Priory, Church End Road - The Priory was founded after 1114 by Alan de Croun, a son of one of the Norman Barons who crossed the Channel with William the Conqueror, and is recognised as Freiston’s greatest benefactor.  It became a cell to the monks of Crowland Abbey in 1130.  The present house is mainly 17th century with Georgian alterations.  Before becoming a private residence it was occupied by the various vicars of the Parish.  Legend says that the Priory had 4 tunnels which connected it to Coupledyke Hall, the infirmary at Spittal Hill, the Church and Rochford Tower.  The latter carrying on to the Hussey Tower in Boston.  Canon Peter Paine, Vicar of Freiston took possession in 1937 and behind panelling in the butler’s pantry, the builders found a perfectly good monk’s cell.  This was about the size of a telephone kiosk; it had holes at the top and the side where the monk who was undergoing punishment was lowered into it and received his food.  Unfortunately this was destroyed by the builders.  The Stables at the Priory, a former barn are 18th century and together with the main house are Grade II listed.

Like many old dwellings, the Priory has its ghost stories.  There are two tales about a certain room in the house, although the origin is not known.  One is that a certain bedroom can never be kept shut and the other is that a lady visitor comes to do her hair before the mirror in the same room.

Peachy House, Church End Road - is built on the site of an earlier manor house which was known as ‘Peace’e’.  The first owner of the house was Herbert Peche and he died in 1272.  The original Peachy Hall had been torn down by 1871 and the land for it belonged to a Colonel Linton.  The present house is early 19th century and is Grade II listed.

Coupledyke Hall, Church End Road was owned by a leading Lincolnshire family from the 13th to the 17th century, the first mention of the family in the district was in 1250 with Roger Coppledyke, and the last male heir Thomas Coupledyke died in 1568.   Previous to its modernisation about 1804, the hall exhibited considerable signs of antiquity.  It is felt that parts of the front of the present Coupledyke Hall are remnants of the original, the walls are 18 inches thick and during alterations wooden beams have been discovered which crumpled like dust.  There was also a spiral staircase of very ancient design and appeared to be the only means of passage between the ground and first floors.  The building is Grade II listed.

Poynton Hall, Shore Road - was owned and farmed in 1275 by Alexander de Poynton, followed by William Packharness who was a big donor to Charities.  This residence was on the east of the village within 200 metres of the Old Girls School, but is no longer standing.

Cold Harbour Farm, on the road to Freiston Shore is thought to have been used for storage of fish for the Monks.  The term ‘cold harbour’ means a resting place without heat.

Roos Hall, Church Road was held by the Roos family who were descended from Alan de Croun.  In 1871 Roos Hall was the manor of Henry Rogers.  The site is now occupied by six pensionsers bungalows.

Whiteloaf Hall - This is one of our most interesting properties and is situated across the fields near the old sea bank.  It has two stepped gables one of which carries a stone in the shape of a loaf of bread dated 1614.  It is thought that the first loaf of white bread, in England was baked at this house. Previously brown bread has always been the staple diet.  Another stone beneath the window has the date 1613.  Whiteloaf Hall was a haunt of smugglers when the Wash came close up to the Bank.  Tales of hobgoblins and shagfoals on lonely roads in these parts may have been put about by smugglers to deter the inhabitants from reporting any strange, unlawful goings-on.  The building is Grade II listed.

In 1711 John Linton became vicar of Butterwick and resided at Whiteloaf Hall.  The second John Linton was vicar of both Butterwick and Freiston.  He reclaimed much of the foreshore and instead of cattle he introduced potato growing on his land but soon abandoned it.  When orchards were repeatedly robbed of their fruit, John Linton, as a deterrent, set up a man-trap with a human leg on it, that he had obtained from a surgeon.  The fruit was left intact!

Listed Buildings

Further to those already mentioned there are a number of other Grade II listed buildings in the parish.  These include The Grange, an early 18th century house and a 19th century property both in Church Road.  Miramar House at Scrane End is a late 18th century red brick house with 19th century additions and Mill Pit Farm which was built in the late 18th century with alterations in both the 19th and 20th century.  All of these properties are privately owned.

The Plummers Hotel (now a number of individual properties) is Grade II listed, as is the Marine Hotel - now completely derelict..

At Haltoft End there is a Grade II listed early 19th century Cast Iron ‘Milepost’.  Freiston is shown at the top and Boston 3 miles, and Wainfleet 15 miles on the sides.

A number of bridges in the parish are also Grade II listed.  The Ings Bridge and the Priory Road Bridge both span the Hobhole Drain and Bakers Bridge, Bakers Lane over the Cowbridge Drain and Clamp Gate Bridge also over the Hobhole Drain.  All were built about 1805 in red brick.

St James' Church (see separate entry) is Grade I listed along with the Cross Shaft in the Churchyard which is Grade II.

Businesses past

Freiston was a self supporting village.  Back in 1842 there was five inns/taverns, The Anchor (at the Shore with Wm Hackney), The Bull Dog (with Christopher Tolliday), The Castle Inn (with Anthony Swift), The Coach and Horses (with Thos Plummer) and The Kings Head (with Wm Hurst) plus two Beer Houses. 

Freiston had a Blacksmiths, Wheelwrights, Joiners, a Boot and Shoemaker, Dressmaker, Bricklayers, a Miller and Baker, along with a number of Farmers.  The mill was beside the King’s Head where the bungalows are now built and the bread was delivered by horse and cart.  Freiston village school was situated on the site of the present Church Hall. 

In 2015 we have the Post Office and Village Stores, the Butchers Shop and three pubs.

In 1842 Freiston was mentioned in William White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory.

  • “Freiston about 3 miles E. of Boston, is a pleasant, straggling village, bearing the names of Church-end and Altoft-end, the latter nearly a mile north of the church.  Its parish has upwards of 1100 inhabitants, and about 5000 acres of land, including a fen allotment of 1019A.28p, lying from 3 to 4 miles north of the church, and the hamlets of Freiston Shore and Crane-end, on the shore of the great Wash, 5 miles E. by S. of Boston. 
  • At Freiston Shore, are two good hotels, pleasantly situated near the sea-bank and much resorted to, in summer by the people of Boston and other places, desirous of enjoying the salubrious exercise of sea bathing, for which here is ample accommodation, as well as suits of warm and tepid baths at the hotels.  Here are nine fishing boats employed in catching herrings, shrimps, soles, sprats, otysters etc. 
  • Henry Rogers, esq, is lord of the manor of Freiston and Butterwick anciently called the manor of Rooshall, but the soil belongs to many freeholders, most of whom are resident; and here are three smaller manors of Coupledyke Hall, Poynton Hall and Peachy Hall . . . . . .

From long ago:

The Great Famine of Europe in 1315-1317 was the worst ever known in Freiston.  With all the heavy rain the grain could not ripen and the effects of this lasted for 7 years.  It is reported that people lived on chestnuts, acorns, wild edible roots and bark.

Back in 1739 when King George II was on the throne, Thomas Chamberlain previously of Boston who was married to Mary daughter of William Blaydwin of Freiston needed to mortgage lands.  In a copy of the 1739 indenture £200 was borrowed against land at Barneyfield owned originally by the Blaydwin family.  (Information given by Graham Umpleby who has the original indenture) 

Compiled by J W & Mrs J Barnes from local knowledge together with information taken from:

Boston Library (Freiston - reference)                                    

Freiston with Butterwick - A compilation by The Rev J R Trotter MA (1936)
History and Antiquities of Boston by Pishey Thompson (1856)

(last updated May 2017)