History of the Village

Five Bells Butterwick

Photo by Barnes collection

Five Bells Public House


Butterwick is a small village situated about four miles eastward of Boston.  Nothing is known with respect to the origin of its name.  In Domesday Book it is called Butruic; in an ancient deed, dated 1410, it is called Boterwick.  In the survey of the parish, taken 1684, it is called Butterwicke.  (Thompson, 1856)

PUBLIC HOUSES - On the north end of St Andrew’s Church stood the old Pub which had a thatched roof, this was duly knocked down and a new one built opposite.  It had been agreed that a railway/tramway would come from Boston to Wrangle so the new Public House was built as a railway inn.  However it was decided at a Vestry Meeting on 12th January 1878 to take no further action on the railway from Boston to Wrangle.  The Church bells gave their name to the village pub, being called the Five Bells.  In later years a sixth bell was donated to the Church but the pub kept its original name.

Another Public House in the village was the ‘The Butchers Arms’; this did not have a full license, only for beer.  There was no bar and all beer was carried and served in a jug with the drinkers sat around a large table in armchairs, kitchen chairs or whatever.  The name derived from it being previously a Butchers Shop, Farmyard and Slaughter House.  It eventually closed down - now in private hands, 14 Brand End Road.

The land the old pub was on was owned by Soames of Spalding and then was given to the Village to erect a hall.  The then Vicar J R Trotter, supported by his mother, gave the money to build the hall; in 1936 this cost £2200 approximately.

Right in front of the Five Bells Pub was the village water pump; this was erected on a six foot high brick structure.  This was so people could pump water into large water carts for animals or whatever use they may have wanted.  It was surrounded by iron railings, which were taken down for the war effort and later (possibly after the war) the whole structure was removed.

CHAPELS - There were two chapels in Butterwick, one small and built in 1862 on Church Road.  This was closed in 1930 (approx) and stood where the garden of 19 Church Road now is.  The other was a Wesleyan Methodist, in Mill Lane, built in 1815, enlarged in 1856.  By 1901 it was replaced with a new chapel and school room.  This is no longer used as a Chapel but is now owned by a local business.

BUTTERWICK POST OFFICE first started at a large house in a farmyard in Benington Road, (only outbuildings remain) before moving to a cottage at 9 Old Post Office Lane, for many years (now a private house).  Eventually the Post Office moved to the Village Shop in Brand End Road next door to what is now the Fish Shop.

The Fish Shop originally was in the outbuilding near 6 Church Road.  Years ago the village had three grocery shops, but as the supermarkets appeared in Boston the local shops vanished except the one combined with the Post Office.

PITS - From looking at and researching old maps of the area Butterwick had numerous pits.  It is known that the amount of pits was caused by digging out clay for the making of bricks to build the local houses.  When later this land was farmed for vegetable growing, whole bricks were still being ploughed out for many years afterwards.  There was a pit in Sea Lane and also three small pits in the field that is now Vinters Way.  There was one off Watery Lane and a further pit off Benington Road.   Opposite St Andrew’s Church was also a pit (now Prince William Drive) with a further pit in the next field, two more in Brand End Road and two pits near the School.  None of these pits are in evidence today.

You hear mentioned ‘Pit houses’ in the village and wonder what it means but actually they are three bungalows.  Way back there was a very large pit in the centre of the village, on one end in front of where the Post Office is now was a mound with a cross on it.  This was used for the Preachers to give their sermons.  Eventually the pit was filled in and this left a triangle of land at the crossroads in front of the Five Bells, on Benington Road, Brand End Road and Old Post Office Lane.  They have now built three properties, still referred to as the ‘pit houses’ but they are really bungalows, one on each corner of the triangle of land.

WINDMILLS - The Marshall mill was built in 1871, this tower mill worked by steam and wind under the mid 1920’s.  It carried on using an engine for many years after this.  It had four patent sails which drove two, and possible three pairs of stones.  As time progressed it was adapted to be driven by a petrol engine from outside the mill.  Another four-poster mill was in a farm yard off the main road opposite Mill Lane owned by Mr Bolland and when in action it had a shop for selling attached to the farm house.

POULTRY FARM - In the 1900s to about 1940 there was a Poultry Farm on 6.288 acres with huts all over it between Watery Lane and Sea Lane.  At the junction of these two lanes large sheds were built were they ground the wheat and mixed other ingredients for poultry and animal foods.  They also undertook to supply other farmers and started a egg collection service.  Eventually factory farming took over with laying cages etc, so it was no longer a viable proposition as all small farmers had to clear out for the big ones.  The sheds were then taken over by Preston Farmers of Ruskington who dealt all over the area.  They also delivered fuel for the numerous amount of machinery that was beginning to get about.  The buildings are still used by businesses to day and the land reverted to farming.  There was also a small Poultry Farm in two large wooden huts on the main A52 opposite ‘Holly House’.  These were also in egg production but the hens were caged.

Another business from times past was a Piggery started in a yard owned by a Mr Cooper of Cooper Bros in Vine Lodge.  It extended from there to behind two old cottages to the next roadway 100 yards down Benington Road.  A large building was then erected off the main road near Bollands yard and must have held a thousand pigs, an extension to the piggery at Vine Lodge.  This business went well during the war, but again like the Chicken Farm as Supermarkets came along larger supplies were required.

OTHER LOCAL BUSINESSES - Butterwick right from early 1800 was always served by plenty of different businesses.  As well as the two or three shops it had a fried fish shop, Butchers, Cycle Maker and repairer, Brewer, Beer retailer, a shoe maker and repairer, bricklayers and builders, carpentry and joiners and a wheelwright for repairing all the various horse carts and a smithy to make and shoe the horses.  Remember in the early days there was only horse power to do everything.  There is also evidence of dressmakers, tailors and hatters for people who had no way of getting to town.

BUTTERWICK PULLOVER - Sea Lane starts at the Five Bells Pub and goes right to the two banks, one being the old Roman Bank and the other a later Sea Bank to keep back the sea and made more land available for agriculture.  Years ago there used to be a lot of collecting of cockles and mussels with a partly stoned road for the horses and carts to travel on.  Also there was a lot of sampher gathered that grew in abundance, it was a delicacy of the well to do in the city.  Heather was also grown at the marsh, gathered and sent to be sold at markets.  In the 1930’s you could roam the marsh and shoot geese, ducks etc at will; and people came from far afield.  Now only three houses are left but in the 1940’s and 1950’s there used to be nine houses together with two farmhouses, all now pulled down.  One of the houses that is left was built over the old roman bank was for the Officers Mess in the 1914 war.  As the army was stationed there the soldiers had their accommodation in a field at the back of the house.  A small kitchen and dining room built of brick and another one for a sick room or hospital which is still there.  The dining room for the boys was turned into a bungalow in the 1930s.  There was a very high structure built for a look out post for the army across the marsh.  Further down the road were two enormous concrete blocks in the field with two large rings to fasten the balloons on in case of aircraft.  A wall was built and a huge amount of soil brought against it, as a shooting range.  In 1939 the shooting range had a 9” gun brought and it was mainly for testing different types of ammunition.

LISTED BUILDINGS - Along with the Church (Grade I), the Old Girls School (Grade II), Pinchbeck House (Grade II )and the Mill (Grade II) in Mill Lane there are a number of other interesting Grade II listed buildings in the parish.

The cottage on Brand End Road (No 37 - private residence) was built around 1670 with alterations in the 18th century.  In Weirs Lane there is a 19th century cottage (private residence) which is a fine example of a Fen half house.  The farm house on the main road (known originally as Mill Farmhouse, now called ‘The Chestnuts’ - private residence) was built around 1785 with 19th century alterations and the stable block also listed is early 19th century.  The Old Brewhouse (Grade II) on Church Road is now a private residence.

The ‘Mile Post’ on the junction of Mill Lane and the Main A52 is an early 19th century cast iron sign.  With Butterwick at the top it shows 4 miles Boston and Wainfleet 14 miles.

  • (In 1870-72 John Martin Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Butterwick like this:
  • BUTTERWICK a parish in Boston district, Lincoln; on the coast, near Boston Deepe, 41/4 miles E of Boston r. station.  It includes an allotment in the East Fen: and has a post office under Boston.  Acres 4,420; of which 3,050 are water.  Real property, £4,600.  Pop, 605.  Houses 120.  A large pond, which medical men declared to be highly pestiferous, was recently filled up and planted with vegetables.  The living is a vicarage annexed to the vicarage of Freiston in the diocese of Lincoln.  The church has an early English octagonal font, and a rood turret.  There are a Westeyan chapel, an endowed school with £280 a year, and charities £160.

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

Boston Library (Butterwick - 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 July 2015)