About Navenby

Navenby is an attractive and vibrant village in Lincolnshire with a population of 2,128 (2011 Census). Navenby sits atop a limestone escarpment called the Lincoln Edge or Lincoln Cliff, and from the latter is known as one of the Cliff Villages .From the western side of the village there are expansive views down into the Witham Valley and towards Newark, Tuxford and Lincoln. To the east the landscape gradually slopes towards the Lincolnshire Wolds and then to the coast and the seaside resorts of Skegness, Chapel St. Leonards and Mablethorpe, unfortunately Navenby is too far inland to have any views of the sea, even though it is at least 226 feet above sea level.

Navenby is conveniently located on the A607 road approximately 9 miles south of Lincoln and roughly the same distance northwest of Sleaford. The village has wide selection of shops including butchers, bakery, two local supermarkets, a chemist, an antique centre, florist, public houses and a selection of eateries. There are two churches St Peters’ Church and a Methodist Church and a medical practice. Navenby also has a popular primary school.

The village is steeped in history from the Bronze Age onwards, and significant archaeological finds have been found especially from the Roman period when a small garrison was established on Ermine Street. Undergoing restoration is what many villagers would describe as the jewel in the crown, is Mrs Smith's cottage which is a mid - 19th century Grade 2 listed building, now preserved as a museum.. Mrs Smith died in 1995 at the age of 102 years old. The cottage is a time capsule to life with few, if any mod cons.


The following historical information about Navenby is reproduced by kind permission of North Kesteven District Council Planning Department.

Archaeological evidence suggests that there has been human habitation in and around Navenby since prehistoric times. Early finds include the discovery of a Bronze Age cemetery of about 600 BC and the remains of an Iron Age settlement (400 - 300 BC) near Chapel Lane. Ermine Street, a Roman road built between 45 and 75 AD, runs in a north-south direction to the east of the village and traverses a site once occupied by small roadside Roman settlement or garrison. Historians believe that the site, which is near the junction between Chapel Lane and High Dyke, was a significant staging point on the route between London and York.

Cremations dated to the middle Saxon period have been found near the Roman site and late Saxon remains have been discovered near St Peter's Church. These finds may suggest that the nucleus of the settlement had moved westwards from the original Roman village on the plateau to a location on the scarp edge. This would follow a similar pattern to Anglo-Saxon settlement elsewhere which tended to avoid established Roman sites. However as cemeteries tended to be slightly remote from settlements the exact location of settlement is not clear. Given that it is rare to find evidence of continuous settlement throughout the Saxon period there may in fact have been more than one location.

Throughout Lincolnshire more systematic methods of cultivation and formal patterns of land management were probably introduced from the 9th/10th centuries and may even have been post-Norman. Extensive tracts of woodland were cleared and areas defined which often continue to be reflected in present day parish boundaries.

The Vikings exerted great influence across Lincolnshire in the C10, and a record of their presence remains in the many local place names ending in -by, which indicated a homestead or village. The name of Navenby has evolved from a Norse name 'Nafni', plus 'by' and thus means 'farmstead or village of a man called Nafni'. In Domesday Book of 1086 Navenby appears as both Navenbi and Navenebi, and one small Manor, thought to be on Church Lane, is recorded. There was a larger manor recorded at Skinnand which continued as a separate parish and village until at least the 17th century.

Navenby evolved from a small agricultural village and became a market town after receiving a charter from Edward the Confessor in the 11th century. The wide main street, down which farmers once drove their sheep to a busy streetmarket, is lasting evidence of its market town status. St Peters Church, on Church Lane, is a Grade I listed building with C13 origins and it is by far the most historically significant building in the village. The Church was altered during C14 and C15, then enlarged and embellished during C18 and C19, reflecting the wealth in the local economy generated by a flourishing agricultural sector.

Historic records show that part of the parish of Navenby was enclosed from 1770 and that the conditions within the market town at that time justified the building of a workhouse for the parish poor. Due to widespread land improvements, innovations in agricultural production methods and flourishing agricultural markets, a period of considerable growth followed and during the early and mid C19, a number of schools, a Methodist Chapel and a Temperance Hall were constructed. However, at this time the market closed and the settlement lost its status as a market town, once again becoming an agricultural village.

The Methodist Chapel and a number of prestigious new dwellings of the period reflect the booming village economy of the mid C19, while a coat of arms above a village Inn commemorates a Royal visit in 1870. In 1857, the Provincial Gas Light and Coke Company began to supply gas lighting to the village and a gas works is indicated on the 1905 Ordnance Survey County Series map. In 1867 a railway station was built three-quarters of a mile (1.2 km) west of the village, on the Lincoln-to-Grantham branch of the Great Northern Railway and a minor nucleus of activity developed to the west of the settlement boundary. However, the railway was closed in 1962, the adjacent hotel was subsequently demolished and all rails and sleepers removed. The remaining Station building and goods shed have been converted to other uses.

Several street names continue reflect preceding uses or associations and a particularly intriguing example is suggested by the peculiar name given to the small lane and footpath winding between Church Lane and Clint Lane. The route is known as 'The Smoots' and historically the word referred to a purveyor of lard or fat.

Changes in farming practices in the mid C19, a general move away from a dependence on agriculture at the beginning of C20 and a significant increase in population throughout the rest of the century, have led to the construction of several contemporary buildings on infill plots within the centre of the village, while the continuing demand for new housing has resulted in small modern estates being developed on the settlement edges to the east and south. The new areas have been designed in accordance with modern living requirements and both the plan-form and scale of development differ markedly from those of the earlier parts of the village.

The older buildings in Navenby are constructed of limestone excavated from small local quarries, from which each villager had the right to claim sufficient material to build and repair his house. The quarries operated sporadically between C13 and C19, and their remains are still partially visible in the surrounding landscape. However, it is also widely believed that much of the limestone used in the construction of the earlier village buildings was reclaimed from the ruins of the nearby Roman settlement. Although very much in the minority, some of the early

C19 buildings in the village are of red brick and earthworks at the foot of the limestone scarp suggest the existence of a brickyard with brick pits, where clay from the vale was used to make local bricks. Historic records show that Navenby's brick works ceased operating around 1890, but its former presence is recorded in the name of Brickyard Lane, which leads out into the vale from the northwest of the village. Several other village street names also continue to reflect preceding functions or characteristics. The street now known as Clint Lane was formerly Watery Lane, apparently due to the number of springs that ran along it and drained into the village duck pond, which still exists at the western end of the lane. Gas Lane, which is next to Clint Lane and originally called Meg's Lane, was re-named after The Provincial Gas Light and Coke Company set up a base there in 1857.

Navenby evolved steadily from a small agricultural settlement and by 1563, fifty-four households were recorded in the Diocesan Returns. It is probable that population growth slowed during the C17 and C18, when changes in agricultural practices and the subsequent enclosure of land had a significant effect on settlement patterns, leading to widespread migration to towns. In the early 1700s, the village had eighty households and the census of 1801 records a population of 479, confirming that growth during C18 was modest.

Population growth accelerated during the first half of C19, reaching 1170 in 1861 and then falling again to 779 in 1901. Growth during the early C20 remained modest and by 1921, the village had a population of 824. However, this was followed by a period of rapid expansion and the population of the village roughly doubled between the middle and the end of C20, growing from 851 in 1950 to 1,666 in 2001. Rapid growth continued during the first decade of C21, when the village population reached approximately 1800. The dramatic increase in population which occurred during the late C20 and early C21 is largely attributed to the construction of modern housing developments on the eastern and southern edges of the settlement.

Further information about Navenby and the Parish Council can be found on this website.