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Horncastle, Lincolnshire

Historical Description

Horncastle, a market and union town and parish, and liead of a county court district and petty sessional division in Lincolnshire. The town stands at the confluence of the rivers Bain and Waring, at the E foot of the Wolds, and at the terminus of a line from Kirkstead on the Lincoln and Boston branch of the G.N.R., 10 miles NW from Spilsby, 21 E from Lincoln, 130 by rail and 136 by road from London. Its name was originally written Horncastre, and was derived from a " hym " or angle at the confluence of the rivers, and from a " castrum" or fort built here by the Romans. The fort may be assumed to have been strong, and it appears to have been renovated or reconstructed both in the Saxon times and after the Norman Conquest, but it is now represented by only a few small fragments of walls. The original castrum has been identified by some distinguished antiquaries with the Bannovallium of the Roman geographer Ravennas. A Roman road went hence to Lincoln nearly in coincidence with the present road, and another Roman road branched off to Caistor, and thence to the Humber, and is still known as the High Street. Many Roman coins, several Roman urns and fragments of urns, and some fine specimens of the silver currency of the early English, have been found to the S of the town, and an ornamental brass spur, a dagger, and part of a brass crucifix were found in 1802 in an adjacent part of the bed of the Bain. The site of a Roman maze, called the Julian Bower, is on the SW side of the town near the vestiges of the fort. A place called Hangman's Corner, where capital sentences of the manor court were formerly carried into execution, is at the SE part of the parish, near a mill on the Mareham Road. The manor was held by Queen Editha, by Adeliza de Candia, and by Girard of Rhodes; was given by Henry III. to the Bishops of Carlisle, passed in 1858 to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and now belongs to the Stanhope family, The town stands chiefly in the angle at the confluence of the rivers, has undergone great recent improvement, and, notwithstanding that the streets are somewhat narrow and irregular, presents a modern and pleasing appearance. It is governed by a local board of twelve members formed in 1866 under the Local Government Act of 1858, is paved, lighted with gas, and has an abundant supply of water. The corn exchange in High Street was erected in 1856 at a cost of about £3500, is a handsome edifice of brick with stone facings, and includes a newsroom, a mechanics' institute with a library, and a hall for assemblies, concerts, and lectures. The butter market was erected in 1853, and was rebuilt with additions in 1885. The court-house is a building of brick and stone fitted with the usual offices, and used for special and petty sessions, the county court, and the meetings of the Commissioners of Taxes. There is a dispensary, a building of white brick, which was erected in 1886 as a memorial to the late Sir Henry Dymoke. The parish church, dedicated to St Mary, is a spacious building of the local soft green sandstone, chiefly in the Decorated and Perpendicular styles of the time of Henry VII.; includes small portions of a previous Early English church, was thoroughly restored in 1860 at a cost of about £4000, consists of nave, aisles, and chancel, with a massive embattled western tower and spire, and contains some interesting tombs and monuments. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Lincoln; net value, £4: 00. Patron, the Bishop of Lincoln. There is a chapel of ease erected in 1847-48, and there are Baptist, Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Swedenborgian, and Wesleyan chapels. There are six endowed almshouses, and there are other charities with an income of about £160 a year. The grammar school was founded and endowed in 1562 by Edward Lord Clinton and Saye, Lord High Admiral of Eng land, is of high repute, and has an income derived from, lands of about £400 a year. The workhouse is a building of red brick erected in 1838, and has accommodation for 200 inmates. The river Bain was made navigable from Homcastle to the Witham, a distance of 10 miles, under Acts of 1792 and 1800 on a capital of £35, 000. The town has a head post office, two banks, and a savings bank, and publishes a weekly newspaper. A weekly market is held on Saturday for poultry and provisions, and five annual fairs are held-the first for cattle and sheep on the fifth Thursday in Lent, the second for horses and cattle on 21 and 22 June; a great fair for horses-one of the largest in the kingdom, on the second Monday in August and the five following days, the Thursday being devoted to sheep and the Friday for cattle also; a fair for foals and lambs on the second Thursday of Sept., and the fifth for cattle, horses, and sheep, and also for pleasure on 28 and 29 Oct. A good trade is carried on in making and brewing, and in corn and coal. The parish formerly included an allotment in Wildmore Fen, but in 1884 this was transferred to the new parish of Wildmore. The area is now 1421 acres; population, 4374.

Horncastle or South Lindsey Parliamentary Division of Lincolnshire was formed under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, and returns one member to the House of Commons. Population, 46, 685. The division includes the following:-Spilsby-Addlethorpe, Asgarby, Ashby, Aswardby, Benington Fen Allotment, Bollingbroke, Boston (East-Fen Allotment), Bratoft, Brinkill, Burgh, Butterwick Fen Allotment, Candlesby, Carrington (except the part in the parliamentary borough of Boston), Croft, Dalby, Driby, East Ville, Enderby Mavis, Firsby, Fishtoft Fen Allotment, Frieston Fen Allotment, Friskney, Frith Ville (except the part in the parliamentary borough of Boston), Gunby, Hagnaby, Halton Holegate, Hareby, Harrington, Hnndleby, Ingoldmells, Irby, Keal (East), Keal (West), Kirkby (East), Langton-by-Spilsby, Leake Fen Allotment, Leverton Fen Allotment, Lusby, Mid Ville, Miningsby, Northoime, Orby, Partney, Raithby, Revesby (part of), Sausthorpe, Scremsby, Sibsey, Skegness, Skendleby, Skirbeck Fen Allotment, Spilsby, Steeping (Great), Steeping (Little), Stickford, Stickney, Sntterby, Thorpe, Toynton (All Saints), Toynton (St Peter), Wainfleet (All Saints), Wainfleet (St Mary), Welton, West Ville, Winthorpe; Homcastle (part of)-Ashby (West), Ashby Pnerorum, Coningsby, Claxby Pluckacre, Dalderby, Ediington, Enderby, Fulletby, Greetham, Hagworthingham, Haltham, Hammeringham, Haven Bank, Homcastle, Kirkby-upon-Bain, Kirkstead, Langriville, Langton, Mareham-le-Fen, Mareham-on-the-Hill, Martin, Moorby, Ormsby (South), Oxcomb, Revesby, Boughton, Salmonby, Scrafield, Scrivels-by, Somersby, Tattershall, Tattershall Thorpe, Tetford, Thimbleby, Thornton, Thornton-le-Fen, Tointon (High), Tointon (Low), Tumby, Wilksby, Winceby, Worlaby, Wood Enderby, Woodball; Alford (part of)-Aby-with-Greenfield, Alford, Anderby, Beesby, Belleau, Bilsby, Calceby, Claxby, Claythorpe, Cumberworth, Farlesthorpe, Hannah - cnm-Hagnaby, Haugh, Hogsthorpe, Huttoft, Maltby-le-Marsh, Markby, Mumby, Rigsby, Saleby, Strubby, Sntton-le-Marsh, Swaby, Thoresby (South), Totbill, Trusthorpe, Ulceby (near Alford), Well, Willoughby, Withern.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyLincolnshire 
Ecclesiastical parishHorncastle St. Mary 
HundredSoke of Horncastle 
Poor Law unionHorncastle 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Church Records

Findmypast, in conjunction with the Lincolnshire Archives, have the following parish records online for Horncastle:


Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Horncastle from the following:


Online maps of Horncastle are available from a number of sites:

Newspapers and Periodicals

The British Newspaper Archive have fully searchable digitised copies of the following Lincolnshire papers online:

DistrictEast Lindsey
RegionEast Midlands
Postal districtLN9
Post TownHorncastle