Holbeach (All Saints)

HOLBEACH (All Saints), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the wapentake of Elloe, parts of Holland, county of Lincoln, 12 miles (S.) from Boston, 42 (S. E.) from Lincoln, and 106 (N. by E.) from London; containing 4637 inhabitants. The ancient name of this place was Oldbeche, it having been built near an old beach which the receding of the waters had left; and it is evident, from the different embankments constructed between the Foss-Dyke and the Cross-Keys Washes, that all the land in the vicinity of the town was once covered by the waters of the North Sea. Foundations of walls, and pavements, have been discovered, and several ancient coins, urns, and seals dug up at different periods. The town, which is situated on the road from Newark to Norwich, and in a low marshy district, is indifferently built. In 1834, an act was obtained for improving and draining some adjoining lands. There is a considerable traffic for the supply of the neighbourhood, and the sale of various articles of merchandise and other commodities, which are landed at Foss-Dyke, distant about five miles. The market is on Thursday; and fairs are held on May 17th and September 17th, chiefly for pleasure. The powers of the county debt-court of Holbeach, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Holbeach. The parish comprises by measurement 23,000 acres; the population is chiefly employed in agriculture, and the grazing of cattle, for which there are very extensive pastures.

The living is a vicarage, valued in the king's books at £20. 5. 10.; patron and appropriator, the Bishop of Lincoln: the great tithes have been commuted for £4994. 10., and the vicarial for £807. 10.; the glebe comprises 7a. 1r. The church is an elegant and spacious structure, in the decorated English style, with a square embattled tower surmounted by a lofty and gracefully-proportioned spire; in the chancel are some interesting monuments, and an altar-piece representing Our Saviour instituting the Last Supper. In the north aisle is an altar-tomb with a recumbent figure, supposed to have been erected to the memory of Sir Humphrey Littlebury, who fell in the wars of the roses. In that part of the parish called the Fen, now well drained, a chapel has been erected, and dedicated to St. John, which is a neat structure, in the early English style, containing 280 sittings; the bishop of the diocese contributed £850 towards its erection and endowment, and presented the communion-plate. There are places of worship for Wesleyans and Primitive Methodists. The free school was founded in 1669, by George Farmer, Esq., who endowed it with land which, with subsequent benefactions, produces an income of £200; in 1807, a new schoolroom was built at an expense of £500, raised by subscription. There is also a national school; and the sum of £21, arising from various bequests, is annually distributed among the poor. The union of Holbeach comprises 11 parishes and places, and contains a population of 16,997. An hospital for a warden and fifteen poor persons was founded near the church, about 1351, by Sir John de Kirketon, Knt.; but it was suppressed at the Reformation. The town is celebrated as having been the residence of several eminent literary characters, including Stukeley, the antiquary, and Mrs. Centlivre, the dramatist, who were natives of this place; Henry Rands, otherwise Holbeach, appointed to the bishopric of Lincoln in 1547, and one of the compilers of the Liturgy; and Samuel Frotheringham, a member of the Society of Friends, who died here in 1745.

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