The History of Welbourn Village Lincolnshire

The Village lies sheltered on a secondary scarp of the Lincolnshire Edge on its western face.

WELBOURN (Wellebrune in the Domesday Book) is a village with a population of just over 500. It has a long history, from the Roman period and possibly earlier. The place name dates back to Anglo-Saxon times when it is probable the present village form was established. The major Roman road, Ermine Street, can still be clearly traced as the eastern parish boundary.  Roman earthworks have been recorded on the western edge of the village.

Welbourn Manor was probably in existence before the Norman conquest. The Domesday Book records the manor being held in 1086 by a Norman land owner, Robert Malet, and the inhabitants consisting of "35 sokemen, 12 villeins and 8 bordars", together with a priest. The village also contained a church and a mill.

In the 12th century the Lord of the Manor added a motte and bailey castle on the northern edge of the village. The mounds and moat of the castle survive today as Castle Hill.

A century or so later the village was granted the right to hold a weekly market and an annual six day fair following the Feast of St. Chad, the Saint to whom the parish Church is dedicated.  Contemporary records show the arrival of the Black Death in 1349;  the years of devastation which followed had a profound effect on the flourishing farming community of the Welbourn of that time. The population suffered grievous loss and the adjacent hamlet of Sapperton, which lay to the south of the village, may have been completely abandoned.  Eventually, Welbourn recovered and for 200 years or more village life must have changed but little.   Then, in the 17th century disaster struck again.  In October 1666 the village was all but destroyed by a freak storm:

"On the 13th there was the strongest whirlwind or earthquake, or both, in Lincolnshire that was ever heard of. In the town of Welbourn near to Newark of 80 stone houses only three were left standing, the timbers being so disposed that none can tell his own".

But they re-built and the abundant records of the 19th century show Welbourn at a peak of agricultural development: a community largely composed of farmers and agricultural labourers supporting a wide range of rural crafts and service trades. There was also a period of rapid population growth, between 1801 and 1861 the number of people living in the village increased from 360 to 664.

In the 1860s the Lincoln to Grantham railway (now closed) ran to the west of the village. The local railway station was at Leadenham. The Wesleyan Methodist Chapel was established in Welbourn High Street in 1839, but this too, is now closed down, the building being used as a house. The village school was built in 1865 on the site of the present Primary School.

Welbourn's most illustrious son, Sir William Robertson, was born at the old post office and tailor's shop kept by his father at the Co-operative Cottages, The Green. The house is still there and marked by a plaque. Sir William Robertson left the village school in 1872 at the age of 12.  He enlisted as a trooper in 1877 and eventually rose to the rank of Field Marshal and Chief of the Imperial General Staff; the first ranker ever to do so. Today almost all the parish (3300 acres) is given over to large scale arable farming with 62% of the land devoted to cereal growing and only 9% under pasture.