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Caistor, or Castor (St. Peter and St. Paul)

CAISTOR, or Castor (St. Peter and St. Paul), a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, partly in the N. division of the wapentake of Walshcroft, but chiefly in the S. division of the wapentake of Yarborough, parts of Lindsey, county of Lincoln, 23 miles (N. N. E.) from Lincoln, and 153 (N.) from London; comprising the chapelries of Holton-le-Moor and Clixby, and the hamlets of Audleby, Fonaby, and Hundon; and containing 1988 inhabitants. This was evidently a station of the Romans, of whom numerous coins and other relics have been discovered. According to tradition, Hengist, after having repulsed the Picts and Scots, obtained from Vortigern the grant of so much land as he could encompass with the hide of an ox: having divided the hide into small thongs, he was enabled to inclose a considerable area, forming the site of the town, which, from that circumstance, was called by the Saxons Thuang Ceastre or Thong Ceastre. Dr. Stukeley, however, derives the prefix from the Saxon thegn, a thane or nobleman. The marriage of Rowena, daughter of Hengist, to Vortigern, was solemnised here in 453. Egbert, who finally brought the several kingdoms of the heptarchy under his dominion, obtained a signal victory at this place over Wiglof, King of Mercia, in 827; in commemoration of which a cross was erected on the castle hill, where many bodies have been dug up, and a stone with a mutilated inscription, apparently recording the dedication of the spoils by the victor to some sacred purpose.

The town, which commands extensive prospects over the vale of the Ancholme and the western ridges of the Wolds, is well supplied with water from four springs issuing out of a grey-stone rock, three of which unite their streams on the western side of it, and fall into the Ancholme; the other flows into the same river near the junction of the Kelsey canal with that to Glandford-Brigg. Its market is on Saturday; and fairs are held on the Saturdays before Palm-Sunday, Whit-Sunday, and Old Michaelmas-day. The town is within the jurisdiction of the county magistrates: the powers of the county debt-court of Caistor, established in 1847, extend over the sub-registration-district of Caistor. The parish comprises an area of 3220a. 3r. 28p. of land, including Caistor moor, which extends three miles west, and was inclosed in 1798; the soil is partly sandy, generally fertile, and well cultivated. The living is a discharged vicarage, with the living of Clixby annexed, valued in the king's books at £7. 6. 8., and in the gift of the Prebendary of Caistor in the Cathedral of Lincoln, with a net income of £250. The tithes of Caistor were commuted at the inclosure for 91 acres of land to the impropriator, and 80 acres to the vicar; but the hamlets of Audleby, Fonaby, and Hundon pay a yearly modus of £252. 7. to the former, and one of £180 to the latter. The church is a spacious structure in the early English style, with some remains of Norman architecture: it has a fine tower, with a chapel on the south side, now used as a vestry-room; and stands within the area of the ancient castle, with the materials of which it is partly built. A singular ceremony has been long observed, on the performance of which is said to depend the tenure of an estate in the parish of Broughton. The holder sends an agent on Palm-Sunday, who cracks a whip three times in the north porch of the church, while the minister is reading the first lesson; after which, attaching a small purse to the thong, he enters the church, and on the commencement of the second lesson, flourishes the whip thrice, and on the conclusion of it retires into the chancel: when the service is ended, the whip and purse are deposited in the manor-house at Hundon. The ceremony, however, was not observed in the year 1847. There are places of worship for Independents and Methodists. The free grammar school was founded in 1630, by the Rev. Francis Rawlinson, who endowed it with £400, afterwards laid out in the purchase of a portion of the great tithes of Beesby, now producing £130 per annum; besides which there are £60 a year, arising from land bought with a donation by Wm. Hansard, Esq. The school has an exhibition of £10 per annum to Jesus College, Cambridge: the building was thoroughly repaired in 1838, at a cost of £200, raised by subscription. The poor law union of Caistor comprises 76 parishes or places, and contains a population of 27,068.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.