Grantham (St. Wulfran)

GRANTHAM (St. Wulfran), a borough, market-town, and parish, and the head of a union, in the wapentake of Loveden, parts of Kesteven, county of Lincoln; containing, with the three townships of Manthorpe with Little Gonerby, Harrowby, and Spittlegate with Houghton and Walton, 8691 inhabitants, of whom 4683 are in the town, 24 miles (S. by W.) from Lincoln, and 111 (N. by W.) from London. This place, from its situation on the Ermin-street, is supposed to have been a Roman station, but there is no evidence of its having ever been occupied by that people; and of the origin of an ancient castle to the east of the church, and near the river Witham, of which the foundations are said to have been dug up, no authentic information is recorded. The manor was held by Editha, queen of Edward the Confessor, and continued in the crown till the reign of Henry III. About the year 1290, a house of Franciscan or Grey friars was founded on the west side of the town, the site of which was granted by Henry VIII. to Robert Bocher and David Vincent: this place, called the Grange, is extraparochial, is now used as a garden, and comprises many acres adjoining the market-place. There was also a commandery of Knights Hospitallers in the town, the remains of which form part of the Angel inn. During the civil war of the 17th century, Grantham was an object of interest with the contending parties; and the neighbourhood was the scene of the first advantage gained over the royalists by Cromwell.

The town is pleasantly situated on the river Witham, near the vale of Belvoir, and on the great road to York. It consists principally of four spacious streets, and is well paved; it was first lighted with gas in 1833, by a company established with a capital of £6000, and is amply supplied with water. The houses are in general of respectable appearance, and in the town and the several approaches to it many substantial houses have been recently erected, among which is a savings' bank, a handsome structure of stone, in the Elizabethan style, forming a conspicuous ornament. The theatre, a neat brick building, is opened during the winter season; and assemblies are held at the guildhall. The environs abound with pleasing scenery, and are ornamented with several seats and villas. The trade is chiefly in corn, malt, and coal, of which large quantities are sent to the adjoining counties. A navigable canal, commencing within a quarter of a mile of the town, and joining the Trent at Nottingham, was constructed under an act of parliament passed in 1793. The great railway from London to York will run by the town; and an act was obtained in 1846 for a railway from Ambergate and Nottingham, by Grantham, to Boston and Spalding. The market, which is extensively supplied with corn, is on Saturday, and every alternate week there is a large mart for live-stock; the fairs are on the fifth Monday in Lent, Holy-Thursday, July 10th, October 26th, and December 17th, for horses and cattle.

Charters were granted to the town by Edward IV., Richard III., Henry VIII., Edward VI., Philip and Mary, Elizabeth, James I., Charles I. and II., and James II. Under these the corporation consisted of an alderman, recorder, deputy-recorder, 13 com-burgesses (including the alderman), and 12 second burgesses, assisted by a town-clerk, coroner, and other officers: the jurisdiction extended over the borough and liberties, which latter comprised certain parishes or townships called the Soke. By the act of the 5th and 6th of William IV., cap. 76, the government is now vested in four aldermen and twelve councillors, one of whom is mayor; the justices of the peace consist of the mayor, late mayor, and 4 others nominated by the crown. The freedom is inherited by birth, and acquired by servitude. The elective franchise was conferred in the 7th of Edward IV., since which time the borough has returned two members to parliament: the right of election was formerly in the freemen not receiving alms, whether resident or not, in number upwards of 800; but by the act of the 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, the non-resident freemen, except within seven miles, were disfranchised, and the privilege was extended to the £10 householders, of an enlarged district. The ancient borough comprised 408 acres; the present electoral limits comprehend 5310. The borough magistrates hold petty-sessions in the guildhall weekly, or oftener if required; and under the charter of James I. there is a court of record for debts not exceeding £40. The justices for the parts of Kesteven, although otherwise unconnected with the town, hold petty-sessions in it by virtue of an act of parliament: the powers of the county debt-court of Grantham, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Grantham, and part of that of Newark. The guildhall, a neat and commodious edifice, was built in 1787, and, in addition to the rooms for the transaction of public business, contains a spacious assembly-room. The common gaol and house of correction is adapted to the classification of prisoners.

The living comprises the united vicarages of North and South Grantham; the former, with the vicarage of Londonthorpe, valued in the king's books at £19. 4. 7.; and the latter, with the vicarage of Braceby, at £17. 15. 7½.; net income, £1006; patrons, alternately, the Prebendaries of North and South Grantham in the Cathedral of Salisbury. The tithes were commuted for land and corn-rents in 1795. The church is a magnificent structure, partly in the early and partly in the decorated English style, with a lofty tower engaged in the lower stages, and surmounted by a richly crocketed spire. The tower communicates with the nave and aisles by three finely pointed arches, and the interior of the church displays great variety in the piers and arches which support the roof; the chancel has a range of small clerestory windows, and a stone screen of exquisite design. Among the numerous monuments, the most elegant are those to Sir Thomas Bury, chief baron of the exchequer in the reign of George I.; Sir Dudley Ryder, chief justice of the court of king's bench; and Captain Cust, R.N., who fell in the action at Port Louis, in 1747. A lecture in the church on Wednesday morning is endowed with a stipend of £90 per annum; the right of presentation belongs to the Drapers' Company, London. A district church, dedicated to St. John, has been completed at Spittlegate. There are places of worship for Huntingtonians, Independents, and Weslevans, and a Roman Catholic chapel.

The free grammar school was founded in 1528, by Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, who endowed it with £6. 13. 4. per annum for the master, which sum, and others for repairs of the house, are charged upon estates belonging to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. It was further endowed by charter of Edward VI., with the revenues of two dissolved charities, called the Holy Trinity and the Blessed Mary, and certain obits, and was ordered to be called the "Free Grammar School of King Edward VI." The annual income now exceeds £700, the surplus of which is appropriated to the foundation of exhibitions to Oxford and Cambridge. Sir Isaac Newton, who was born at Woolsthorpe, about eight miles from Grantham, received the rudiments of his education in this school. Various charitable bequests have been left for the poor. The union, of Grantham comprises 52 parishes or places, of which 46 are in the county of Lincoln, and 6 in that of Leicester; and contains 25,619 inhabitants. Near the town is a chalybeate spring, but the water is not much used. Bishop Fox and Dr. John Still, Bishop of Bath and Wells in the reign of Elizabeth, the supposed author of Gammer Gurton's Needle, the earliest comedy extant in the English language, were natives of the town. Grantham gives the inferior title of Baron to Earl de Grey.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, 7th edition, published in 1848.