Saxilby Village History

A modern, expanding village with an ancient heart.

Whilst the village has seen the construction of a number of green field housing sites over the past few years, and the subsequent increase in population, the centre of Saxilby retains its medieval street plan. Pictured right is a section from the oldest surviving map of the area, drawn in 1648. On it you can see the Church, the post mill on Mill Lane, High Street, Sykes Lane and the canal.

The layout of the deserted medieval villages of North and South Ingleby (a scheduled ancient monument) remains as it was in the 13th century.

Image of a medieval map of saxilby

Several buildings remain which span the centuries: St. Botolph’s Church (C12th), Saxilby Old Hall (C15th), the Manor House (C16th) and several cottages (C18th). Although most of these buildings are listed, this is not always a guarantee of preservation. Amongst the Grade II listed buildings now lost are a pair of mid C19th railway cottages at 10 and 12 Sykes Lane and a C17th timber framed cottage at 105 High Street, now the site of a supermarket.

The oldest artificial waterway in the country, The Fossdyke, connecting the River Trent at Torksey to the River Till at Odda, has influenced village life throughout the past two millennia.

When the Roman Army arrived in the area in 50AD, they found a cluster of huts around the Brayford in Lincoln inhabited by a Celtic tribe called the Coritani. A great swamp lay between here and the Trent. Historians are undecided whether the Fossdyke was built for land drainage or as a canal some 100 years later. Certainly, according to the Doomsday Book, both Torksey and Hardwick were ports by the time of Edward the Confessor in 1050.

There is little evidence of Roman occupation within the area, although excavations at Ingleby and Sykes Junction have both found Roman pottery. Possibly, like Lincoln, we are living on the top of a Roman settlement.

By 400AD, Lincoln had been taken by the Angles and burnt to the ground, with the City left as a deserted ruin. No trace of the Coritani Tribe remains either in our language or place names. The area around Lincoln was overtaken by Anglo-Saxon invaders known as the ‘Lindiswaras’, whilst the ‘Gainas’ occupied the banks of the Trent. The Kingdom of Mercia was formed around 580AD, incorporating a semi-independent Kingdom of Lindsey.

The Venerable Bede writes that the Danes (Vikings) came to the area in 839, and plundered the district with ‘great slaughter’; that year again, in Lindsey, East Anglia and Kent, many men were killed by that force’. They came again in 869, and in 873 the whole Viking army over-wintered at Torksey, by now an important town, and larger than Nottingham. Whilst the Kingdom of Mercia retook possession of the area in 918, the Danish invaders had settled within the area as farmers and merchants. It is from these settlers that most of our place names and dialect derive.

Saxilby (Danish) ‘ayse ce eyes le by’; ‘the farm holding amidst the mooring pool waters of the river’. ‘Ad Saxebi in Lincolescira’ (Doomsday Book 1086).

Ingleby (Danish) ‘Settlement of Angles’; ‘Englebi’ (Doomsday Book 1086).

Broxholme (Anglo-Danish) ‘Broces Holm’; ‘the island amidst the fen waters of the brook’.

Broadholme (Anglo-Danish) ‘Wide island’.

The area was overtaken by Danish invaders some one hundred years later in 1013, led by King Swegn, who established a camp at Gainsborough; ‘all quickly bowed to him . . . all the folk of Lindsey’. He was succeeded by his son, Cnut, who, as a Christian convert, founded many monasteries in the area.

Lords of the Manor.
Following the Norman Conquest in 1066, lands were given to the French nobility, who created the concept of the Lord of the Manor, a situation that would survive until 1804. Three Manors were created within the area.

The first was granted to Bishop Odo of Beyeaux, who was the half brother and second in command to William the Conqueror, and acted as Regent when William was out of the country. Saxilby was one of 76 estates he held in Lincolnshire, and his tenants here were Coleswain and Wadard. He was a proud, arrogant, aspiring man, and looking upon himself rich enough to purchase the papacy, he set off for Rome in 1082. He was seized by King William as he prepared to sail from Portsmouth, and forfeited his treasure and estates. The Crown retained part of Saxilby Manor until 1966, and the Gables Manor Nursing Home at Ingleby is part of this estate. The remaining lands were given to Manasser Arsic.

Robert de Todeni was granted the second. Amongst the other manors which the Conqueror bestowed on him, he obtained that of Belvoir, where he built the existing castle. His son Berenger was his tenant. The present Duke of Rutland is his immediate descendant.

The remaining Manor was granted to William de Perci, who was the admiral of the fleet which brought King William and his army on the invasion of England. He founded the abbey at Whitby, and his brother Serlo was the first abbot. He died on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and whilst he is buried in Italy, his heart is interred in Whitby Abbey.

12th Century.
The next surviving survey was taken around 1110 during the reign of Henry I. Alan de Perci had succeeded his father, Robert de Hay followed Coleswain as the King's tenant, Wigot of Lincoln had taken over from Robert de Todeni, and the tenant of Manassser Arsic was Turstan de Renni. Wigot was the Sheriff of Lincolnshire in 1114, and was later followed by his son Alan.

Occasionally during the middle ages, day to day village life was affected by national politics, when the population would hardly even be aware of the name of the monarch. The monk, Orderis Vitalis, records at the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 that a force led by Earl Ranulph of Chester ‘crossed the Fossdyke, swollen large by winter rains’.

14th Century.
A royal commission held in 1375 on the state of the Fossdyke ruled that the abutting landlords were responsible for the upkeep of the canal. They are named as Sir Ralph Daubenay, the Abbott of Newstead, Gilbert de Brydeshale, Hugh de Normanton, and Lady Katherine de Swyneford.

The Daubenay family (also known as D'Albini or de Albiniaco) may have been the first Lords of the Manor to live within the parish, and a family tomb is in St. Botolph's church.

A Premonstratention nunnery at Broadholme was overseen by the monks of Newstead Abbey.

Lady Katherine de Swynford, Lord of the Manor of Torksey with Hardwick, and Kettlethorpe, was the third wife of John of Gaunt. They were married in Lincoln Cathedral on 13 January 1396, and lived at Bolingbroke castle near Horncastle. Katherine died on 10 May 1403 and is buried in the Cathedral. Her stepson, born at Bolingbroke, became King Henry IV in 1399.

15th Century.
The Daubney lands, forfeit in 1483, passed to Sir Thomas Burgh, whose family home was the Old Hall at Gainsborough. He built a home for his son, which is Saxilby Old Hall at 76 High Street.

l6th and 17th Centuries.
Before 1540, these lands passed to the Monson family of Burton and South Carlton. The Monsons were one of the leading Lincolnshire families. Amongst the offices they severally held were Lord Lieutenant, ‘Knights of the Shire’, MP for Lincoln, and Recorder of the City of Lincoln. One of the family, William, was appointed ‘Admiral of the Narrow Seas’ during the reign of James I in 1602.

Following the taking of the City of Lincoln by the Earl of Manchester during the Civil War in 1644, he records in his diary ‘have quartered four regiments of foot at Gainsborough, Torksey Bridge and Saxilby, being in readiness to march towards the Scottish Army’.

The surviving estate map of 1648 was drawn up for the Worshipful John Buxton, the Lord of the Manor at Broadholme. He was living in the former nunnery renamed Broadholme Hall. The other landlords are shown as Sir John Monson, Anthony Monson, Sir Robert Heath, the King, Mr. Atkinson, Wife Weatherhead and Wife Searsbey. Mr. Atkinson had been the vicar of Blyton, and transferred to the living of Glentworth. He was a leading nonconformist and puritan, and in 1604 was cited for not wearing a surplice and conforming to the ceremonies. He was excommunicated, but absolved on swearing to obey church law. In 1625 he was allowed £20 per year to preach and read lectures as the Mayor of Lincoln should appoint, on Wednesdays.

The surviving churchwarden’s accounts cover an eventful period in the history of the church in England. Dating from 1551, they begin during the reign of Edward VI, following the establishment of the Church of England. Many of the symbols of Catholicism are sold at this time, only to be re-instated during the reign of Queen Mary. The entries continue in detail during the reign of Elizabeth I, when again the church articles are sold, until 1569. Written in both Latin and Lincolnshire dialect, these can be seen in the Lincolnshire Archives.

The Fossdyke.
By the time of the Norman Conquest, the Fossdyke had become un-navigable, and Torksey and Hardwick were in decline. In 1121, Bishop Atwater, under instructions from King Henry I, improved the canal by ‘scouring the channel’. There are records of the canal again being maintained in 1335, 1365 and 1518. Following years of expensive Royal maintenance, King James I gave the canal to the City of Lincoln, and by 1660, the canal traffic had virtually ceased.

Considerable improvements were made to the canal in 1672, and the Brayford in Lincoln developed into a busy port. By the mid 18th century, the expansion in both road and waterway traffic brought increasing prosperity to the village. The City of Lincoln leased the Fossdyke to Richard Ellison in 1741; the channel was restored, and re-opened in 1744. At the same time, turnpike roads were being established. A road ‘leading from Carholm Gate to Drinsey Nook, Dunham and Littleborough (Marton) Ferries’ opened in 1756, and a new drawbridge was built over the canal on Fosse (Bridge) Street.

The landscape we see today was formed in 1804, following assent of Parliament to the Enclosure Act in 1802: ‘An Act for dividing, inclosing, draining . . . the open fields, half year’s meadow land, common pastures, commons, moors and waste lands within the parish of Saxelby’. When the enclosure was over, new public and private roads had been formed, new land drains cut, and over 120 plots of land staked out ready for new hedges to be planted. Many of the surviving hawthorn hedges around the village today are the result of this planting.

To the north of Saxilby village lie the two deserted medieval villages of North and South Ingleby. The many earthworks which can be seen from the Sturton Road are the remains of the roads, fields and lakes which formed the settlements.

In the centre of North Ingleby is a large manorial complex, which was bounded on three sides by a chain of fishponds forming a moat. Ingleby Hall, built in 1879, now stands to one corner of this site. To the immediate south of the current Hall is the site of the manorial chapel, first mentioned in 1232. This may have been the original site of both the font and Daubney tomb, which were moved to St. Botolph’s Church when the chapel was abandoned.

An embankment surrounds a large field to the north of the Hall, described in 1569 as ‘the deer parke’ and 1650 as ‘The Park or the Deer Park’.

A further manor house at South Ingleby is recorded in 1304, with a dovecote and windmill. A mound, levelled in 1950, stood at the roadside between South Ingleby and Saxilby ; this may have been the site of the mill. A prominent bank, lying between the two villages, was possibly a rabbit warren.

The two villages were both held by the Daubney family during the 14th century. The lands passed first to Sir Thomas Burgh, and by 1539 to the Monsons of South Carlton. The cultivated fields were enclosed, and farming converted to sheep, which led to the decline in population.

This hamlet lies on the outskirts of Saxilby. Manor Farm stands on the site of the medieval nunnery of St. Mary, a priory of Premonstratensian canonesses founded before 1154 and dissolved in 1536. It was the first of only two nunneries of the order to be established in England in the Middle Ages. The Priory Seal is pictured below.

Photograph of the priory seal of the medieval nunnery of st. mary, saxiliby

Closely associated with St. Botolph’s Church and Saxilby, the Priory was sponsored by the local Lords of the Manor and Royalty. A Charter signed by King Edward III, dated 27 February 1327 reads, ‘on account of the special affection which Queen Isabella, his most dear mother has towards them, grants to the Prioress and Nuns of Brodholme a yearly rent of 8 marks’. Lady Alicia Daubney was buried at the Priory in 1342.

Whilst vandalism and petty theft are often thought to be a current day problem, an incident recorded in 1383 proves otherwise. A complaint was made to the King that ‘William Wauterson, John in the Croft and John Henryson of Saxilby had broken into the Priory Close, felled trees and underwood, depastured the corn and grass, assaulted the servants, besieged the Prioress and her nuns, and threatened them with death’.

A valuation of all Church property was made in 1535, following the end of the jurisdiction of the Catholic Church. The valuation of Brodeholme Nunnery included rental income for Ingleby (10shillings) and Saxilby (£3/15s/6d), and out-goings for rent of 13s/4d paid to Lord Daubeney.

Now a scheduled monument, little evidence remains of the Priory. Some architectural fragments have been built into the existing farmhouse, and there are earthworks indicating fishponds to the rear of the property.

This article is an extract taken from ‘Step Back in Time’, the history of Saxilby written and published by The History of Saxilby and District Group. Copies are available to collect at £10 from Saxilby Post Office, Tong’s D.I.Y. and Divine Designs. or by post from the Group Secretary, Jayne Hewis, 3 Chapel Yard, Saxilby, LINCOLN, LN1 2HD – 01522 703047 –

‘Step back in time’, the history of saxilby written and published by the history of saxilby and district group.